Making Memories

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Categories Family, Toddlers, TravelTags , 12 Comments

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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Powerful instincts

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Categories Mommy Issues, PregnancyTags , , 9 Comments

They say that smell is one of the biggest memory triggers we have, and I know I’ve long found that to be true.  Yesterday I found it in a funny place.  At 9:30 last night, I found myself in my local emergency room (a whole lot of nothing, just making sure I hadn’t managed to lodge a piece of corn in my lungs, all is well).  The same hospital where my kids were born nearly a year ago, the same one where I spent so much time with twice-weekly ultrasounds and two different attempts at the 3-hour glucose test.

The parking lot and entrance were oh-so familiar, I could practically walk them in my sleep.  I remembered where the bumps in the ramps were, where to find the automatic door button.  Of course, instead of going down the hall to the lab or the elevators to the L&D floor, I made the right turn into the ER (quietly busy on a Sunday night).  What brought me back more that anything, more than signing my name three times on the form, more than the blood pressure cuff, was the smell of the soap in the bathroom.  They use the same soap in the entire hospital, of course.  How many times did I wash my hands during the four days post-delivery, and the three more of visiting the kids in the Special Care Nursery?  How many times, between the more than a dozen ultrasounds of my twin pregnancy, my seemingly endless blood draw attempts, and my one visit for false labor?  I’m glad that I associate that smell with my kids and what has become, in hindsight, the exciting anticipation of my pregnancy (I rather hated being pregnant at the time, but now I can look back on it with some degree of nostalgia and fondness).  I’m glad that smell memory replaced the memory of a weekend ultrasound in October when I found out an earlier pregnancy had ended, or the D&C that followed.

No, walking those familiar hallways and smelling those familiar smells (and knowing that I was clearly not having a major emergency) reminded me of last summer.  I was constantly at that hospital, walking the same steps to the mid-point of the first-floor hallway, turning right to the elevator to get to the 2nd floor. Out of the elevator, cut through the lounge to the small, inconspicuous office of my maternal-fetal medicine doctor (whom I adored), for another look at my yet-unknown babies. Little girl still small but growing, little boy pushing her out of the way to become the presenting twin.

Possibly even crazier than that smell-memory trigger was the unexpected thoughts of doing it all over again. Those creep into my head from time to time, and it’s all I can do not to smack myself.  I did not enjoy being pregnant in the least.  I have no desire to re-live the newborn days.  My kids aren’t even a year old, for pete’s sake!  But yet, there it is, biology / evolution / hormones kicking in and whispering, “are you sure?  Maybe just one more time?”  Heh.  Yeah.  Ask me again when they’re two or three… at least.

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