Remembering Memories

We’re a family whose memory-making veers more to the experiential than the material.  There aren’t a lot of framed photos in our house. I don’t scrap book (three attempts notwithstanding, it hasn’t caught on). I’m not even a particularly good photographer and more often than not, we forget to bring the camera with us when we go out (I’m still old-school enough to prefer not to use my phone!). I feel some guilt over the fact that we don’t try harder to document our lives. After years of sleep deprivation, my memory of my own children’s infancy and young childhood is quite honestly spotty. I do wish I had more concrete reminders of those times.  My children, their synapses young and agile, have a recall for events and things that makes me gasp.  I can barely recall what I wore to work today — and I’m still wearing it.

But I do intend to change. These memory-capturing crafts have my attention. With a little time and organization, I think even I could accomplish some of these:

At Tresfrenchhens, these lovely framed handprints. I might need to do this before it becomes unclear whose hands are whose:

Over at Everything Fabulous, there’s a post about these adorable Love Maps. What a clever way to mark certain important  places in your life:

Both Beth-Anne and Nathalie have had the presence of mind to write down all those wonderful things their kids say during the year. I haven’t managed that, but maybe this will help. It’s a Memory Jar, inspired by something Joan Didion did with her daughter in The Year of Magical Thinking.  Every time someone says something worth recording, you jot it down on whatever’s handy, and drop the paper into the jar. Each year, you start a new one. Brilliant.

But if I don’t get around to any of these, it’s probably because we’re  busy doing things as family. Perhaps I’ll just get this for the entry-way wall. Can’t say I didn’t warn you!

Blogging and Blurbing

At the risk of sounding single-minded, when the topic of memory keeping for our children comes up, I really have only one real suggestion.  It’s this:

Start a blog!  Straightaway!  So much fun!

I started writing a family blog two years ago.  I’m not a good memory keeper otherwise, both mentally (can’t remember anything after awhile) or manually (don’t do scrapbooking, etc.). What I have often kept are writing journals, but I haven’t kept them in one place or any order, so they’re not reliable for retrieval at any given time, even if they could be shared (which of course they can’t).

Enter WordPress (or Blogger or Typepad). And suddenly you’ve got an avenue for uploading photographs and can write down whatever you like (nothing, a caption, or much, much more) to go with them.

What I love about blogging ~

~ it’s there for you.  Whenever you have a chance, you can sit at the computer and click and tap away.  You can write or upload as much or as little as you want, with whatever time you have.  It’s tidy, and assuming you have a computer, there is no set-up or clean-up time afterward.

~ it’s easy to use.  I am not computer-friendly, but I learned to do it (in a basic way) without much fuss.  So so can you.

~ it’s instantaneous.  When you decide to post, it’s up.  Gratification doesn’t get much quicker.

~ it’s incremental.  With a scrapbook, you usually have to find a chunk of time and plug away at a big project.  With blogging, you do a little on a regular (or not so regular) basis, often while an experience is still fresh, and before you know it, you’ve amassed some meaningful content.

~ it can be a great way to stay in touch with family, friends, or like-minded community.  You can receive and reply to comments, thus creating some conversation.

~ or you can keep it private, and granting viewing access only to those people you wish to see it.

And perhaps the clinchiest of the clinchers…

~ you can turn your blog into a book!  Talk about having your cake and eating it too!  With the assistance of an online book making company called Blurb, I’m in the midst of making a book from of my own blog to eventually give to my children (who may not have much in the way of baby books otherwise), to my mother (as a Christmas gift) and to myself (because I will always, always love paper and books).

To use Blurb to turn your blog into a book, you must use one of the blogging programs (like WordPress, Typepad or Blogger).  You then download your blog into the Blurb software (I think the best one for blogs is BookSmart), and then you format and edit each page with lots of options for customizing the book.  This process can be time-consuming; it’s kind of like online scrapbooking.  But at least it’s not much harder than creating your own blog.  Then you upload the finished book back to Blurb for printing.  The result is a high quality bound book that features the very people and experiences you find most compelling.

If you’re getting multiple copies of the book as I plan too, the cost might add up, but a single book wouldn’t be expensive.  For the uniqueness of what you’re getting, I think it’s well worth it.

Blogging and Blurbing isn’t for everyone.  It’s not for you if you’re very afraid of computers or you don’t like writing (Blurb creates photo books too, but I think there are cheaper and more accessible options available).  But for it’s been a boon for me, and I’d encourage anyone who is even a little interested to give it a try.

image credit:  devil’sworkshop.org

Memory Quilt

I will confess that I first learned about this fabulous idea for making memories from, gulp, the Twilight movies.  Bella’s mother gives her a quilt made from the t-shirts they’d bought on all of the road trips they’d taken together.   (And here are Bella and Edward on top if it, Act 12 scene 23 of human/vampire sexual frustration.) 

I love the idea of making something lasting from what could easily become the next dust rag.  We have a bajillion t-shirts in this house, and while many of them will end up as dusters, there are those precious pieces that you just don’t want to cut up for housework.  Before I’d even found this idea, I had been putting aside some of the t-shirts from special trips, summer camps, sports teams and tie-dye parties.  Now I have a concrete plan in mind for their use: a quilt for each boy. 

Bella gets her quilt in high school.  To present the boys with a quilt before they each go off to university would make sense, but I don’t want to wait that long!  There is a seven-year gap between my eldest and youngest, so to give them all quilts on the same day does not really make sense, either.  I’m leaning towards sooner rather than later, though, because I do like the idea of the boys snuggling under their own quilts for movie night while they still live at home. 

The quilts can be made from the jersey material used for t-shirts, but you can also have photographs transferred onto jersey material to include in the quilt.  I’ve seen examples with all of the child’s school photos used along the border.  They can be sports-themed, travel-themed, or, yes, Twilight-themed.

And the best news is that you don’t have to be a dab hand with a needle and thread yourself.  There are many artists out there who will make your quilt for you.  (Google “memory quilt” and go from there.)  They’ll even make them out of Twilight Saga t-shirts.

Memory Making – Let Us Count the Ways

There are few truisms for parents these days, but one almost universal impulse we see is the desire to make memories with our children and find ways of preserving them.  This impulse is hardly new, but what does belong to the present is the myriad ways in which this can be done.  A combination of more disposable income, a recognition (idealization?) of childhood’s importance and transience, and, well, computers, has led to countless ways to record these special times with our little people.

This week we’ll talk about some of the memory making and meaning going on in our lives, and because this can only touch on a very few possibilities, we hope you’ll join the conversation and tell us about what you’re doing in your neck of the woods.  Because, in addition to Photoshop, the computer is positively splendid for sharing ideas on topics just like this one.