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Don't Wait to Create Family Memories
We had a near death in my family last week. My computer, with whom I am rather intimately connected, decided to crash (I really don't like Windows Vista!). It seems that the very smart men who work in the computer hospital were able to save my files, but it needed its operating system reinstalled, and I will now spend the next week reinstalling all my programs and reorganizing everything.

It made me revisit, though, how I handle my backups. I don't back up enough. No one backs up enough. But now I will do it religiously, so that if this ever happens again, I will not panic.

It also prompted me to get all of my digital pictures and all of my videos in one central space. I've decided to hire my teenagers this summer to go through all of our pictures, tag them and organize them into folders, and then upload and edit through all of our family videos. I will feel so much better having them all at the touch of my fingers!

As I began to collect my various family photos from different computers, CDs, external hard drives, and USB drives, I felt like I was walking through the past. Sometimes I look at a picture of my girls when they were toddlers and my arms can still feel them. Here's Katie at 7. When I close my eyes, I still picture her this way:

When they were younger Keith and I used to talk about what we absolutely must do with the kids before they left home: go to the Grand Canyon; see Niagara Falls; go on a bike camping trip; learn to play tennis. Some of those things we have done. Some I'm still waiting for. But I'm realizing more and more that the time is short. Rebecca is 15; going away for two weeks on a family vacation is harder now, because she has piano students and she has friends and she doesn't want to miss youth group. Katie has already missed one junior sleepover this year. She doesn't want to miss another.

Your window for doing the most with your kids is really that 6-11 age. I know it's hard when you have children of different ages, but looking through our photos, I found that 2004 was our best year. The girls were 7 and 9, and we did a ton of stuff! I'm flipping through these and I so want to be back there:

We went to Quebec City. We camped through the Maritime provinces. We skated on the Rideau Canal in Ottawa. We also laughed at home, and took mini bike trips, and read through the Anne of Green Gables and Little House on the Prairie books.

We ate out on the deck as much as possible. We took off for hikes in the wetlands boardwalk near our home as often as we could. Sure, we did serious things like homeschooling and doing dishes and folding laundry and cleaning. But we really lived.

And much of that living was done that summer in a 1973 tent trailer that my aunt gave us when our kids were born. One of the burners didn't work. The rubber on the door didn't always close properly, and sometimes mosquitoes infiltrated our fortress. But it was ours.

Every morning I would awake to the birds chirping, and I would jump out of bed to see the girls already stirring, often drawing on their notepads, as I hopped into my jeans as quickly as I could in those crisp mornings. And then I'd make hot chocolate. There is nothing like hot chocolate when you're camping!

We used to spend at least a month every summer camping in our old tent trailer. Sometimes we'd be close to home so that Keith could still work, and just come join us at night. Other times we'd venture further abroad, like that summer of 2004 when we visited the Bay of Fundy for the first time.

We even stopped by Green Gables in P.E.I., where the kids sat in the horse drawn carriage while Keith and I explored "Lover's Lane"!

Such memories are so precious, and even now, when I close my eyes, I can still hear the frogs croaking, and birds chirping, and fire crackling. I can still hear the girls chattering outside the trailer, knowing they have to keep their voices down so Mommy and Daddy can sleep in, but trying to be just loud enough to wake us up so we will make hot chocolate, but not so loud that it's obvious.

Today Rebecca has piano students, and the girls have youth group, and they have lives so that it's harder to just pick up and go. So we won't have a chance to go camping like this again this summer, and for that I am sad. Perhaps we are just at a different point in our lives, and I need to realize that. But I am not quite ready to let this go.

And so I think this summer I will announce to my brood that we are heading out again. We'll go somewhere close, so Keith can in for work, and Rebecca can teach piano when she needs to. I'd even let friends visit. But summer is not summer if I don't make smores while Keith reads Treasure Island around the campfire by lantern light, and the girls chase the moths away.

I will pack my Jane Austen readalouds, pack a huge cannister of hot chocolate, and we will go. And one day, the girls will look back on these memories and cherish them, too.

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At 7:36 AM , Anonymous Tricia @Hodgepodge said…

What important reminders all around! And I love the idea of hiring your own children to go through, tag and organize photos.


At 1:03 PM , Blogger Herding Grasshoppers said…

I bet they already do! (Cherish the memories, that is),



At 4:25 PM , Blogger Ellen said…

awe, you got me all misty eyed! It reminds me of my childhood, summers with my family! I so want to be able to provide those types of memories to my children as they grow up (they are 2 and 4 and one on the way). I could get all wrapped up in nostalgia thinking about family vacations and Christmas (those are my two biggest 'memory' times growing up). Good for you for carving out time to do it again :)

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About Me

Name: Sheila

Home: Belleville, Ontario, Canada

About Me: I'm a Christian author of a bunch of books, and a frequent speaker to women's groups and marriage conferences. Best of all, I love homeschooling my daughters, Rebecca and Katie. And I love to knit. Preferably simultaneously.

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