We Are Both Right

Preserving Memories – What’s Your Style?

old family photos

What are your family's memories made of? ©Jean Scheijen/stock.xchng

The other night, while I was rearranging the game closet (because it was about time) my daughter came up behind me and asked for her special pink book. “The one that’s all about me,” she said.

I reached up two shelves and handed over a fuzzy covered photo album that contains about two hundred pictures of her first two weeks of life. Yes, I take a lot of pictures. And my kids love me for it. ;-)

Actually, I have archived so many pictures that my husband jokes around that when we’re both gone someday, our son and daughter will be sitting in our house, looking at a room full of photo albums and portable hard drives, saying: “What are we supposed to do with all of this?”

But hey, it’s my memory-preserving style of choice.

Kids grow up so fast. There are so many special moments that I’m always thinking, I wish I could bottle this up and take it out down the road. The color of my daughter’s hair as I put it into pigtails for the first time. My son as a toddler digging into his favorite vegetable — corn on the cob. The looks on their faces the first time each of them rode a pony. Family gardening days out in the yard. Trips to the beach. Visits with great-grandma.

All of the random stuff that makes our family’s world go ’round. And so I take pictures. Lots of them.

There are so many other ways to capture a memory:

Keeping a baby book (although most moms feel a slight tinge of guilt when they think about their unfulfilled wishes for their baby book).

Blogging. I’ve gone so far as to print out most of the blogs I’ve written about my children, but somehow I don’t see them paging through these as much as they will our photo albums.

Scrapbooking, whether digitally or traditionally.

Logging highlights on Facebook–which our kids will probably hate us for someday when their potty training progress (and hang-ups) is still on full display for their prom date’s reading pleasure.

Videos–which are probably the best way to go back in time, if we could just settle on a format that’s going to last a lifetime!

What’s your memory-keeping style of choice?

Taking A Trip Down Memory Lane with the Kids

college homecoming reunion

Heading back to campus (with the kids) was great! ©We Are Both Right

It was just like old times.

Me and Amanda hanging out in the parking lot across the road from our college dorm. Watching the crowd gather for the football game. Glancing through the latest edition of the college newspaper. Planning our next set of stories. Gossiping. Wondering what the guys were scheming up now as they headed toward the tackling dummies. Wiping glitter and asphalt off our children’s knees (now, not then).

If our lives were a sitcom, this was the week of the retrospective episode. Taking it back to where it all began. Homecoming weekend at college.

Like a new show on TV, it would have been all too predictable to start our story, well, at the beginning. So one year into this blog and sooooomany years after we first met at college orientation, Amanda and I are finally getting around to sharing a flashback or two to put it all in perspective.

Let’s just say that homecoming isn’t quite the same as it was when we first stepped foot on our college campus 19 years ago (yikes). Actually it’s so much better.

Those new boyfriends we had back then. Husbands now. Great cooks to boot. Still doing crazy things that make us laugh and sigh at the same time. And did we mention they are great cooks? We’re talking winning-a-throw-down-with-Bobby Flay-great.

On Saturday, they were proud of themselves for having the culinary skills to wow everyone who walked by — from alumni to giggling co-eds. But there was a little bit of regret hanging in the air (on their part) for not having figured out two decades ago that the secret to life (and girls) is as simple as paella and skirt steak sliders on a grill in the parking lot. Hee hee. Amanda and I were happy to sit back and toast our luck with bottles of beer coolers.

We could see the college kids at their tailgate table which was lined with green and yellow plastic cups, and three layers deep of bottles of alcohol, while we inhaled the scents of saffron and caramelized onions.

Our own kids were entertaining themselves (!) and each other riding scooters and doing their version of preschool in a parking lot, thanks to some paper lunch bags and glitter glue that our friend Christine brought. The older boys went roaming around campus in search of a lawn to play football and came back with a broken umbrella handle, fashioned into a kicking tee (A+ for innovation).  Right before kickoff, a walk over to the free carnival afforded the little ones their first ride on a ferris wheel and the three oldest their first falls off a mechanical bull.

The rest of us were content to sit in between our loaded-to-the-brim minivans, talking about how we still “had” it. And how we didn’t.

Case in point: John went up to one of the student club tables set up outside the football field, where three of the current editors of the school paper were looking for people to join. “We’ll sign up,” he said, pointing to himself, Amanda and me. Maybe it was the kids swarming around our knees that gave us away, but they looked doubtful. Then when he launched into a “back when we were editors, almost 20 years ago…” their eyes glazed over. I bumped John’s elbow and said, “Time to go, we’re looking like old folk.”

But those were the days. Late nights in production at the paper, which coincidentally resulted in six marriages among staff. (Somehow I managed to never be at one of those all-nighters — sorry Amanda — but my 4 p.m. deadline for the features section let me preserve my work-life balance even back then.) Then there were the parties in our dorm — where I first met my husband and supposedly gave Amanda her first wine cooler too many. The walks on the roof. And the 90210 viewing parties in Amanda’s room.

Considering that none of us had actually planned to go to this college, but for reasons including parents reluctant to part with their firstborns and the lure of a full scholarship, we all ended up there. And now looking back, we’re really glad that we did.

One Year Later…

Time flies when you're having fun. And we can't believe our blog is turning one! ©We Are Both Right

One year ago, I was taking my daughter for a potty break in the Adventureland section of Disneyland. By the time we left the bathroom, I wanted to scream.

Out of joy.

For the next few minutes, my gaze was locked on my phone. The little Snow White at my side wanted to know what I was squealing about. And finally I sat down on a bench, pulled her onto my lap and said, “Look, that’s you and Mommy. On Mommy’s new web site.” She laughed at the site of her cartoony image, and just then my husband and son emerged from a ride.

“Check this out!” I screamed.

And there I was for the next half hour, wandering into parades and knocking into those big balloon clouds with my eyes glued to the design of our new home page. A site that a college friend and I had conceived in her kitchen one afternoon months earlier. A pursuit that would finally give us full control over our own writing. A concept that would showcase our different approaches to parenting and how we remain friends in spite of it all.

As soon as she answered the phone back home, Amanda and I gushed over how cool it was to see our idea come to life (courtesy of another mom blogger who was much more poised around graphic design than both of us put together).

It wasn’t long before the din of the parade grew louder and we had to agree to talk later.  I moved closer to my family perched on the curb, my daughter up on her daddy’s shoulders and my son watching Mickey and Minnie come down Main Street, U.S.A.  Tucking the phone away, I was still trying to grasp that something I had wanted for so long was actually happening — while I was in Disneyland.

Most of the time, you can’t count on me to be the gushy, fantasyland, karma-ish, fate-is-life kind of person. But I have to tell you that in that moment, I gave myself permission to channel Walt Disney. And he couldn’t have been more right:

All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.

In the year since, it’s been more of the same as we worked together to brainstorm and create. We’ve made new blogging friends and broadened our 1996 view of the web enough to pretend we know what we’re doing in social media. But best of all, we have realized that in so many ways we are more alike than we ever thought.