Category Archives: Memory Archiving

20 Things My Kids Should Know About Me (and maybe already do…)

My kids have a friend in CT whose dad just suddenly died of a heart attack – no warning, just gone.  It made me think about what I’d like to have made known to my kids if something happened to me.  I’m not sure I can get through this post without crying, but I think it is important to have thought through the things that are critical to me to have passed on, as well as to leave them with a smile on their face as they remember my silliness, too.  You are welcome to look in on this conversation, but you’ll have to excuse the personal nature of my post today as it will be addressed to my 4 amazing kids.

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1. I am WAY more health conscious than I live in reality.  My self-control doesn’t equal my passion for all things healthy.  I hope that I have passed on the knowledge and the passion for what great nutrition can do for your life in spite of the fact that I have fallen so short of implementing these beliefs.

2. On the flip side, I hate to exercise.  Really hate it.  If I get out and actually do it, it is because of sheer belief in it rather than passion for it.  However, in my mind, I am a marathon runner.  What does that say about me?!?

3. Without the socialization of your father, I would not be the person that I am.  His influence has allowed me to keep pace with his endless relational energy, and to be able to communicate to others that I really care and am approachable.

4. What I hear myself saying all of the time is, “That’s good enough,” and yet I really don’t like that about myself.  I wish that I had higher standards.

5.  I feel really confident in 4 things:  parenting, homeschooling, creating memories, and communicating tough concepts. That doesn’t mean I’m really good at them…I just have done them enough that I feel confident in my role.

6. One of the reasons that I feel confident about parenting is because right after I had my first baby, I attached myself to someone who had raised kids that I respected.  I sucked her dry of all of her wisdom and insight.  One of the best things I’ve ever done, and I highly recommend you to do the same when the time comes.

7. If I had more money, besides being radically generous with you kids and with others, I’d dress a lot differently.  My wardrobe reflects that “…it is good enough…” attitude.  If I knew that everyone’s needs/wishes were met, I imagine that I’d have fun picking out a wardrobe that reflects more of my tastes than it reflects being frugal.

8. I have learned to control my external emotions; however, while you don’t see me cry very often, I am really extremely emotional.  There are dozens of times a week that tears come to the surface, only to have me push them down.  It kind of scares me how deeply I feel.

9. You guys know this…I just think it would make you smile to remember if I wasn’t around: I get completely grossed out by watching someone else brush their teeth.  Truth be told, I get grossed out when I brush my own teeth.  Of course I brush, but I consider it a success if I get through the experience without gagging.  It is so bad that I brush  my teeth while I’m in the shower…with my eyes closed. (I am even getting queasy thinking about it as I write…).

10. I want so desperately for you guys to be great best friends.  I imagine (a lot more than you would think) days in the future when we all get together and completely enjoy being in each other’s company.  It is one of my favorite daydreams.

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11. I’ve decided that I don’t hate cooking – I just would like it more if I had all of the latest gadgets, the best laid-out kitchen, and the most exotic ingredients. I don’t like having to try to make the same old things taste different every evening.  I’m not very good at that.

12. Nature is a gift to me, and I  am always imagining how to craft our day so that we can be outside.  Having lots of open space helps me think, process and breathe easier.

13.  I am a really good typist.  In fact, if you watch closely during conversations, I often type what is being said.  Subtly, so that no one notices…because that would be really weird to type what people were saying, wouldn’t it? I am also a great speller, but my secret is that I have to type the word to know how they’re spelled.  If you ask me how to spell something, watch closely, because my fingers are moving to help me “visualize” how the word is spelled.

14.  My definition of happiness includes a lot, but the highlights are:  a slight breeze on a 75 degree day on the beach of the ocean, having what I need when I need it, a good book and a fire place, and hearing you guys laugh and having fun together.

15.  I am terribly nostalgic, but I don’t get to indulge in that because it makes me emotional.  And we now know how I feel about showing emotions, huh?

16.  One of the things truly puzzles and grieves me is that I have very few clear memories from my past: childhood, high school, or college.  That is one reason why I scrapbook and intentionally create memories with you guys.  I get to capture memories I want to hold on to, and capture memories I hope that you can remember.

17. There are few things more satisfying to me than editing.  I love the order of it, and how things “magically” jump out at me that are grammatically wrong, or that could simply be said better.  I do, however, have to be careful not to be critical of bad editing in public.  I can be so snarky when I see billboards, signs, or publications that have poor grammar or misspellings.

18. Gardening scratches two itches of mine:  being outside and being productive.  I spend time scheming in my mind how I’ll be able to fit in more veggies and containers in the backyard (and the side of the house, and the front yard, and the neighbors’ yards…).  The process of planting and seeing things grow is only eclipsed by preparing meals from food that I’ve grown.

19. I love your dad deeply, and believe that our commitment and enjoyment of each other makes you guys all the stronger and happier.  Loving him is the best way I can love you guys, and I have worked tirelessly to be able to honestly say that I love him with all of my heart and I am so happy that I married him.

20.  I am unbelievably proud of each of you.  I don’t deserve credit for how great you guys are.  I’m not patient enough.  I’m not creative enough.  I’m not godly enough.  I’m not wise enough.  And yet, He loves me enough that He gave me you.  Mind blowing.  My heart is full with gratitude that I get to be your mom.

Me

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Filed under Family and faith, General thoughts, Memory Archiving, Parenting

A Year of Memories #2

Our neighbors pulled out yesterday morning.  I guess I could replace the word “neighbors” with “family,” and the end result is that my insides feel like they’ve been scraped raw.  I walked through their empty house and remembered and felt.

My favorite memories of our neighbors:

Loud, crazy birthday parties for their kids.
Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations with their families.
All of the many cookouts that we shared.
Working and attending events at our neighborhood park.
Seeing their little girls’ faces pop up over our fence and the many conversations with them that way.
Eating sushi with them for the first time.
Going to the citywide Christmas tree lighting ceremony.
Attending Spamalot with them.
A spontaneous evening of renting a movie with them.

There are just too many to list.   Some of my favorites are just the day to day conversations we had with them over the years.  Their friendship and fellowship will leave a big hole in our lives.

These next few scrapbook pages were put in the memory book that I made to capture the past year of our childcare for them.

The following close up is the story behind this page.

The heart “balloons” were cut out from antique (around 1915) magazines that were my grandmother’s.


The next page is doing art projects with both of their girls.  As I said on an earlier post, we rarely had their middle daughter at our house, because she went to day care right down the street from where her mom worked.  But on this day, we had the honor of spending a little extra time with her.

Little Aksel made us giggle this day when he fell asleep with his pacifier on his thumb.

I found making the pages throughout the year quite therapeutic, and if you’ll indulge me a little while longer, I am also finding writing about shared experiences and memories also therapeutic.   There are more pages to come and I’ll share more over the next few days.

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Filed under General thoughts, Memory Archiving

A Year of Memories – #1

Three weeks before school started this last year, the nanny that our neighbors had counted on for the school year moved to Texas.  There were no hard feelings – her husband had secured a job that required them to move.  However, it put our neighbors in a bad situation.

A little history…a week after we moved from the South to New England, our neighbors moved from North Dakota.  The husband had completed medical school, but was continuing his studies at Yale.  They had a 6 month old daughter, furniture that wouldn’t be delivered for 3 weeks, and knew no one in the area. Our family used its week-old knowledge of the neighborhood to help get them settled, to help them get to know the area, and secure people to help them unload their moving truck when it arrived.    That was the relational beginning of the best set of neighbors we’ve ever had.

And somewhere along the way, our neighbors turned into precious friends.  These past 6 years, we’ve had many cookouts and many spontaneous evenings, and we credit them for introducing us to the amazing world of sushi.  They watched our kids grow from 6, 8, 10 and 12 to a grown up 12, 14, 16 and 18.  And we watched them produce another little girl and a little son.

Now fast-forward to the fall of 2010, and we find ourselves sitting in our backyard discussion options for them in light of the fact that their nanny just moved away.  I’m not exactly sure what inspired to me do so (I am not a natural babysitter), but I found myself offering to be their nanny.  It would involve care for their 2 1/2 month old son, and before and after school care (and transportation to and from school) for their 5 year old daughter.  We hammered out a few details, and before we knew it, we had a closer relationship with their family than we ever dreamed.

At some point in the year, the mama decided that she wanted to go to law school, took and aced the GRE exam, and chose a school in Minnesota she would attend (with a full-ride scholarship, I might add!).  Of course, that meant that their family would be moving to Minnesota after the school year completed.

There are so many stories to be told about how we fell in love with their kids, about the beautiful things it brought out in mine, and how it blessed both of our families to be so linked to each other, but the reason for this post is to give some background to a scrapbook that I created for them.

As soon as we knew that they would be moving and that the time with them would be drawing to a close, I began crafting a scrapbook to commemorate this year of childcare.  Last week, I gave it to them.  Through tears, we all went through the activities captured in the memory book.  It was a tribute to our friendship and to how much in love with their kids we fell.

Here are a few shots.


As the caption says, this page tries to capture the few first days with our new family members.  To capitalize on the early aspect, I used some of my late grandmother’s antique magazines (around 1915 – 1928) to accent the pictures.


While our neighbors have 3 children, we only nannied for 2 of them, because the middle child went to a preschool near her mama’s work.  We didn’t get to see nearly enough of Alex, so when it came time for her birthday (pretty early into the school year), we had a little party for her at our house.

And for a little close up…


This page says it all.  I used a Cricut paper cutter to create the smilie faces and to cut out the words.

I’ll post more of the pictures in the days to come.  As we watch our friends pack up for their move, these pictures become even more of a treasure to us – and I hope to them as well.

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Archiving Memories

For whatever reason, I haven’t been able to bring with me to adulthood many of my childhood memories.  When I try to walk down memory lane, I often get lost.  I’m that person at the family or high school reunions with a blank look on their face for most of the “…remember that time…” conversation.  I’m not exactly sure why this is, but I really feel like I’m missing out on carrying to my future the benefits of my past.

Thankfully, my mom has an amazing, amazing memory.  She keeps my past alive with her anecdotes of the events of my life.  She has told my kids more of my past than I ever will be able to.  One of my kids’ favorite times is when my mom sits with the kids in the car while I run into a store.  While she stays with them, she tells them story after story.  I come back into the car to hear the words, “…and the beautiful princess realized she had made a terrible mistake…”, or “…and the lovely queen ran off with the handsome prince from Texas…” or some other such story coated in royalty, but telling real stories from my past.

Another thing my mom has done is scrapbook the years of her marriage and my childhood.  She was scrapbooking before the craft was trendy and cool, and way before acid-free products were available.  I have a legacy of shelves of scrapbooks from every era of my life, complete with newspaper clippings, school assignments, and tons of pictures.  They might not be artfully arranged with all of the latest and cutest paper, and they don’t follow the rules of having a title and journalling on each page, but they capture the best of our family and the history of the day.  It is priceless to me, and there are few things for which I am more grateful in my life.

Therefore, it makes sense that I carry on that tradition by scrapbooking for my family.  For me, it obviously is a way to capture the memories of our family, but it also is an artistic outlet.  I have kept albums since my college days, and more recently, I have been keeping chronological albums for each year.  I tend to scrapbook in fits, because I don’t have a permanent space to work, and my efforts tend to generate quite a mess; therefore, I take chunks of time to arrange a few pages at a time.  I am about 9 months behind, but I figure that as long as I’m not more than a year behind, I’m doing well.

My prayer is that my kids appreciate my scrapbooks some day as much I appreciate my mom’s – I sure am having fun creating them!

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