Making Memories

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While there are plenty of nice things about living here in Massachusetts, one negative for me is that we are at least 1,000 miles away from nearly all family members (save for my beloved sister-in-law).  Not only do we lack the extra helping hands on a regular basis, but it is distressing that my kids don’t really know their grandparents very well.  Even harder is, the few times a year that we do manage to see them, there’s always that element of the kids having to warm back up to these relative strangers.

At the ocean

Well, in preparation for our most recent trip to Florida, I decided my kids would benefit if I took a page from LauraC and did what I could to familiarize them with people and things ahead of time.  I printed out some photos of grandparents and other folks we’d see, as well as some pictures of the pool and the ocean. I put them in an inexpensive photo book and we “read” it every night for the week before we left.  Between that, and stepping up the frequency of Skype sessions, there was much less adjustment and stranger anxiety with my 18-month-olds and a whole pack of eager relatives.

Having a chat with Auntie and Nana

When we got home, I started thinking… I wanted to reinforce these relationships they’d built up, and reinforce memories of the fun we’d had (and, um, mostly forget about the fact that they were both sick the entire time).  Plus, despite the fact that I’ve taken many thousands of photos since they were born, I have almost none printed to hold in my hands.

From now on, I’ve decided, I will print a photo book after every major event/vacation.  I simply use iPhoto, and can even write up the “story” beneath all of the pictures.  Another book to read with the kids, some photos saved for posterity, and the added bonus of trying to reinforce the earliest beginnings of memories.  Sounds like a win to me.

Does it work?  Well, my mother-in-law came to visit this weekend, arriving late Friday night.  She went in to get the kids when they woke up Saturday morning, and my sometimes-wary toddlers were absolutely thrilled to see her. Bonus!

Last bits of snow

What about you?  Do you have far-flung family and friends?  How do you encourage young ones to remember the people and places that you don’t see as often?

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12 thoughts on “Making Memories”

  1. My mother-in-law calls at least every other day to talk to the girls. She also sends them letters that include photos of my daughters with Grandma and Grandpa. She makes a point of visiting often, and when we thought that Grandpa would be taking care of them while I went overseas (the trip was cancelled), he came to visit a month beforehand so that they would be comfortable with him and he would know their routine. Both Grandma and Grandma have individual relationships with each of their granddaughters, and my girls consider them a part of their everyday lives, even though we’re in Texas and they’re in Seattle.

    My parents, on the other hand, have hardly any communication with my daughters. I’m not sure they can tell them apart, and limit their communication to comments on our photo-sharing site.

  2. My dad and stepmom live several states away, so we see them about 3 times a year. Now that my daughters are older there is no stranger anxiety, but it used to take them awhile to warm up to these visits. They talk to grandma and grandpa all the time on the phone, which helps. My stepmom loves to send care packages of clothes and lately she takes some pictures of her holding up the clothes and puts it in the box, too. That way my daughters have some understanding of who the gift is from. It seems to work.

  3. Since my husband’s family lives in very, very far away El Salvador (and they hate the cold – big shock!) we don’t get to see them too often. Four plane tickets ain’t cheap. We are already using skype at least once a week. I plan to spend about a month at a time there, once they are older, so they can get some real quality time in with all the family and friends we have there. We’ll see how it works. That book idea is a good one, though!

  4. My parents both live in town, so the boys see them weekly and love it. My in-laws live a few hours away, so they get to see them ever other month or so. We skype with them sometimes as well. What is great, though, is that they get to skype with my sister-in-law who is in the Czech Republic. The boys get so excited on Saturday when my husband asks them if they want to see if Beth is on the computer. She loves it too, that she can watch them grow up from so far away.

  5. My in-laws live about 6 hours away and we don’t get to see them too regularly. Our girls are 9months and stranger anxiety is definitely rearing its head. I made a mobile that has little clips and put photos of everyone in our family including cousins, aunts, uncles, etc, and hung it over their diaper changing area. Even though they are young, while I change their diapers I point out different people and tell thew who they are.

  6. We use our blog and skype to keep in touch with family. We too live at least 1000 miles away from any family.

    We use our blog as a type of baby book. This way our relatives can watch them grow while I am keeping track of important events. When my ten month olds are a year old I am going to print a book for each of them. Blurb (http://www.blurb.com/) is a great way to make your blog into a book. It will upload photos and text from your blog so you don’t have to cut and paste everything. The books are also beautiful and quite well made.

    Skype is also wonderful, and free when you are talking to other skypers. We frequently have my mom “over for dinner”. We set the laptop on the table (with the babies at a safe distance) the babies babble away while they eat. Grandma can even sing songs or read books over Skpye.

  7. Great idea, Goddess! I have all my pics in digital format & print one Blurb book a year (sort of like a family yearbook). It’s must faster and cheaper than scrapbooking!

  8. We live in berlin and use skype alot as “grandma” lives in Florida. My Mother even virtually babysits for them. I sit them in there highchairs in front of the screen and serve fingerfood dinner while Grandmom joines in with her morning tea (time zone difference). The best thing – its for free.

  9. Thank you! Such a great idea. My MIL has had her feelings a bit hurt that it took so long for the boys to warm up to her this time around. I’ll definitely go the photo album/book route.

  10. Hi! I’m a new reader! But my husband’s family live in california and idaho. His mom, “Grandma”, makes a picture calendar for the family as a Christmas present every year. Since there are 3 siblings (hubby, his sis, and his bro) Grandma asks each sibling to submit 3 photos for each year’s calendar of the fam/kids. Grandma then picks her own 3…to make 12. Sometimes, like last year, where we were lucky that all 3 families plus Gram and Gramps were able to vacation together…grandma picked all 12 pictures of the week we spent together.
    Ever since my kids were small, I go over the calendar with them to remind them of Gram, Gramps, cousins, aunts uncles. I even keep the calendars each year and look back to remind them. ~Anita

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