Mother’s Day Celebration Ideas

It’s Spring and all of the April showers have resulted in beautiful May flowers. A perfect backdrop for this month in which we honor the mothers in our lives.

My mother is a wee bit of a woman. She is small and petite, but has the moral strength of an ox and a love that runs steady and deep. I have always admired her and feel that she is one of the best human beings that I know. This article celebrates her and focuses on some ideas that I plan to use this Mother’s Day and throughout the year.

Gather Recipes (And the Stories Behind Them)
Every mom has recipes that she is known for. So find (or ask her) for recipes that she keeps tucked away in a special book.

Whether it is a hotdog casserole or homemade chicken pot pie with a hand rolled crust…it is her recipe and everyone loves it. Then grab your smartphone with the downloaded Saving Memories Forever app and have her tell you about each recipe. Have her explain where she got it, when she has made it, what people say about it.

Then, after you have recorded several of her recipe stories, export the files and make a CD with the stories and photo copy the recipes.To extend the fun, share the recipes with your siblings and have your siblings each pick one recipe to bring to your Mother’s Day dinner.

You can also have the kids in the family make one recipe at a time and then listen to the story as you sit at the table and enjoy the dish.

Trouble and Triumph
If you are fortunate enough to have grandparents and parents living, give thanks.

Then, grab your phone and head over to your grandparents and gather some fun stories about times that your mom got into trouble as a kid. Then gather some of the triumphant stories about her and things she accomplished. Not only will you have fun interviewing your grandparents about your mom, but you are recording family history.

Upload these stories to the website and add some pictures to embellish them. Then play the recording for your mom on Mother’s Day. The look on your mom’s face when she listens to those stories will be priceless!

If you have family that cannot be home for Mother’s Day, remember, once you share the stories with them (through the Saving Memories Forever website), they can log into the Saving Memories Forever website for free and listen online!

Have a lovely Spring and a Happy Mother’s Day!

Kim PictureKim Weitkamp has been featured on NPR (National Public radio), SiriusXM, and other radio stations throughout the states. Kim is passionate about the power of story and story coupled with genealogy/family history. She regularly keynotes on those topics and can be reached through her website,



Focus on Passing Down Your Values, Not Money

goodwin-games17The Goodwin Games, a short-lived Fox TV comedy starring Beau Bridges, was a little wacky. On the other hand, it made a vital personal point between laughs: it’s important to pass on family values.

How are you doing on that score?

An intriguing article by Richard Eisenberg, senior Web editor of the Money & Security and Work & Purpose channels of Next Avenue, caught our eye. Click here to read his original article. We’ve condensed his article below (and added in some of our own comments).

Instilling Values
Eisenberg based his article on a recent survey of people over 45. What he found was that when asked “What’s most important to pass on to the next generation?” the No. 1 answer was: “Values and life lessons.”

By the way: the answer “financial assets or real estate” came in last.

What the Wisest Say
Similarly, Cornell University gerontologist Karl Pillemer, who interviewed more than 1,200 Americans for the Legacy Project told Eisenberg: “We found that many of the elders see transmitting their values and core principles as their most important legacy.”

One lesson for parents, Pillemer said, is to “be sure to communicate your values to your children and to bring them up to appreciate having very clear principles for living.”

How ‘The Goodwin Games’ Dad Did It
In the Goodwin Games, Beau Bridges’ character – patriarch Benjamin Goodwin – is trying to do just that, albeit a little late.

At the reading of his will, his three estranged grown children watch the first of a series of videos that Goodwin has made. The message? His children will inherit his $23 million estate only if they “demonstrate good judgment, live up to their potential and be the people they still can be.”

In short, Goodwin’s goal is to parent his children from beyond the grave.

A post-mortem video may not be the best way to pass on values. On the other hand, passing on values can be tough and the video approach is better than none. There are, however, many other options that can be much better, particularly if they’re done with your children while you’re still living.

For most of us, face-to-face, two-way conversations work best. These conversations can be formal or informal.

The Formal Approach
Some families prefer to have these formal meetings during a Thanksgiving gathering (just not during the meal). In this meeting, the matriarch or patriarch might say something like: “Let me share with you what’s important to me in the culture of our family.” Then ask your grown children: “Does this make sense to you?”

Then take some action.  For example, if being charitable is a high priority to you and you want your kids to help the needy, too – you might all pool together some money and make a donation as a family. You might want to create a special fund that continues after you’re gone.

Another formal approach would be to hold a family meeting outside the home and bring in a life planner professional to help run it. There are numerous directories of professional life planners available on the internet. (However, an obvious word of caution: don’t just choose one blindly;do your research carefully)

Going the Informal Route
Alternatively, you could do what many other have done with their grown children: look for ways to subtly drop hints about your values. When talking with your grown kids, act as a role model, so they can pick up your values by watching what you do. Also, be willing to talk about how and why you handle things the way you do.

For example, if you think managing your money wisely is important, explain to your grown children how you do it – that you make an annual retirement plan contribution, that you’ve just found a way to slice expenses without a huge sacrifice, and so on. There’s no need to cite actual numbers. You’re trying to instill habits and values; the dollar amounts are irrelevant.

Instilling A Sense of Family History
According to the surveys that Eisenberg evaluated, the second most important legacy that people can leave their families is a sense of family history. This includes saving and sharing  family stories as well as explaining family  mementos and heirlooms.

The stories part is easy. That’s what Saving Memories Forever is all about. Visit the website and learn more about this easy way to record, share, and save family stories.

Probably the most difficult item on this list (from a dividing it up standpoint) are the mementos and heirlooms. Grandma’s favorite teacup may only be worth $2, but it’s sentimental value makes it priceless. On top of that, there’s only one teacup and how many ways can you split it up? .

If this sounds familiar, you might want to click here for 4 smart ideas on how to leave a legacy.

Whichever approach you take, start giving some serious thought about your values. Start passing on the elements that make your family unique. Meanwhile, focus on the life you’re living now.  Embrace the wonder of opportunities that lie before you..

SMF-Jane2Jane Baker is the Co-Owner of Saving Memories Forever. She likes to write, garden, explore, read, meet with friends, and pat her cats. Not known for big spending, she and her husband, Harvey, like to take advantage of the free activities around St. Louis. She volunteers with several local organizations with her favorite one being STL Village. 


Dealing with Stories that Change Midstream!

dog lickingYou had it all set in your mind.

You asked your76-year old Dad a question about the time when he was a young kid and was teaching his favorite childhood dog, Buckie, some tricks. (While he was a great dog, Buckie didn’t exactly get high marks for brains.)


Your Dad’s story started out recounting the time when he was teaching Buckie how to jump an obstacle course of branches up the in the woods. (It seems that Buckie preferred crawling under the jumps rather than jumping over them.)

That reminded Dad about how his clever current dog, Classy, hid his wallet the other day. He found it under her dog mat in the kitchen. Lovingly covered with drool. And that reminded him about how the dog he had during his college years, Ding, who jumped off the deck in her excitement to see him. (Turns out the deck was 12 feet up in the air.)

We think the way that one story leads to another is sorta wonderful. In fact, your Dad’s stream of consciousness storytelling happens all the time.

Dealing with Stories that Change Direction

We’ve come up with a new feature that makes it easy to accommodate stream-of-consciousness storytelling. It boils down to a new COPY feature.Here’s how it works.
Go back to your Dad’s childhood story about Buckie. This story fits well under your Dad’s Childhood (0-12) Category and under the prompt “Tell me about your pets.” Obviously the story about his current dog, Classy, doesn’t fit in the same Childhood category.

The  story about Classy fits under the Adult (56+) Category and, since there isn’t a prompt specifically about pets, you’ll want to place another copy of the recorded story under the Other Memories from 56 Onward prompt.The same goes for the story about Ding, only this copy of the recording will go under the the Adult (20-25) Category. The point is: all three stories deserve equal attention and you certainly want to capture them because they say a lot about your Dad’s lifelong affection for dogs.

In cases like this, you’ll want to copy the original recording and then place a duplicate copy in the other relevant categories. Click here for specific instructions on how to copy recorded stories.

The Story that Morphs Completely

In the “dog story sequel” example above, the general topic of dogs doesn’t change. That’s not always the case. In fact, sometimes you start out on one topic, but spend most of the time talking about something else entirely. The original topic is barely mentioned!

For example, a story about learning to cook gingerbread cookies with your Grandmother for some unknown reason quickly changes into a story about the vacation road trips you used to take with your young  kids through the Smokey Mountains on the way to the beaches of North Carolina. You were somewhere in your 30s. Let’s say that the cooking gingerbread cookies part of the story took about 30 seconds and that the story didn’t really illicit any feelings nor contain any details. The most interesting part of the recording by far is the road trip.
The best way to deal with this situation is to MOVE the story to a new category. In the example above, the story that you originally set up  for the Childhood (0-12) Category best fits in the Adult (26-40) Category, probably under the Other Memories from 26-40 prompt.

Remember, always add key tag words and phrases that were mentioned in the story so that you can easily find the story. In the road trip story, those key tag words would probably include “Smokey Mountains” and “road trip”, to name a few.

Click here for instructions on how to move recorded stories.


Celebrations Module

Even with these new COPY and MOVE features, there are still some stories thatl seem a bit lost. Often, these other stories fit perfectly in what we call our Celebration Module. We call it that simply because there are many different types of celebrations.

For example,  think about the family birthday parties that you’ve attended over the years. You can either record what relatives remember about some of those parties or you can record while you’re at the party. Go to the Celebrations Module, click on the Birthday heading, and record the remarks of family members who were there, and then save and share those stories long after the event.

You can also go with the “live” approach (after all, it’s pretty neat to listen to your 5 year old’s enthusiasm as he first opens the big box from his grandparents). Of course, birthday parties aren’t always quiet so it might be better to capture the time after the party when grandpa and grandson are talking about some adventures that the new jumbo tRex might take.

Then there are stories from the family reunions. Saving Memories Forever even makes it easy to share these family stories with people who couldn’t attend the reunion.

For retirement parties and anniversaries, you might want to ask co-workers to comment about ways in which the retiree contributed to the organization. Or about an amusing incident at work. After all,  25 years of work created strong bonds that are worth preserving. Click here for specific instructions on how to use the Celebrations Module.

So enjoy the world in all its complexity. Take advantage of the new Saving Memories Forever features that make it even more manageable.

How to Use the Celebration Module

SMF logo with linkThe Celebration Module is a great way to record stories from relatives, friends and acquaintances for a special occasion. While most of the recording will probably be done before the event, you can also record stories during the event. This is a special way to use the Saving Memories Forever system.

Using a 50th wedding anniversary as an example, here’s how to set up an account and how to use the Celebration Module. Let’s assume that Becky Johnson, the daughter and anniversary organizer, wants everyone who’s invited to the anniversary celebration to record a story or some comments about her parents, Al and Ruth Johnson..

1. Becky first signs up for a new account on either the smartphone app or the website. Use an easy to remember user name in the form of an e-mail address. i.e., (The username should not be a real e-mail address but needs to be in the form of an e-mail address). Use an easy to remember password like “celebrate”.

2. Becky then sends a note to all the people she would like to record stories. She gives them the sign in information and asks them to download the Saving Memories Forever app from the iTunes App store or the Google Play store.

3. Becky asks everyone who’s invited to sign into the app, pick Celebrations, then Anniversary and then record a story and upload. Since they are using an account that she has paid for, their recordings are free. Stories can be recorded anywhere, including Uncle Frank is in South America and Aunt Mary is in a nursing home in New Jersey. Frank can record on his own; Aunt Mary can record with the help of a cousin who lives nearby.

4. After they have uploaded their story, Becky asks them to announce that they have recorded a story on their Facebook page. The functionality is built into the app. After the story is uploaded the app asks, “Would you like to share this on Facebook/” They select share and sign into Facebook. Their announcement should say something like, “I have just recorded a story for the Johnson’s 50th wedding anniversary. Do you know any stories about them you would like to share?”

5. Becky is the gate keeper. Any new storytellers should be referred to him or her for approval and instructions.

6.  Do the people have pictures or text files that go with the story they tell?Becky asks people recording the stories and comments to attach these picture or text files to their stories.

7. When all the stories are recorded, Becky changes the password and no further stories can be recorded.

8. Now Becky can download all the recorded stories to her computer using the export function, >My Memories> My Account >Export Files.

9. Once the stories are downloaded to the computer, Becky can burn the stories to a CD, using CD burning software that was supplied with her computer. She can give this CD to her parents (and the guests too, if she wants).

10. Are there stories Becky wants to record during the celebration? Maybe from people who do not have a smartphone? Stories can be recorded at the event by anyone who has a smartphone and login. So Sam, a 30-year old nephew of the Johnsons, can record stories from Great Uncle John who is 90 and does not have a smartphone.

11. Last but not least.  Using the My Profile screen, Becky can change the screen name to her parents’ real e-mail address. (My Memories>My Account>Change E-Mail) All she needs to do is tell her parents what the username and password are and ask them to record the stories of their lives for the rest of the family. Becky (and everyone invited) have given them a Saving Memories Forever account. Truly a “Gift of a Lifetime”.





Hank Aaron and the Home Run Record

hank aaron-1Whenever April arrives each year, it isn’t difficult for my mind to turn to baseball. After enduring another winter in Chicago, especially this past one, visions of a field of green tend to come easy. I used to live a mere 1/2 mile from Wrigley Field here in Chicago (which incidentally turns 100 years old this year) and Opening Day was, and continues to be, a big deal.

Childhood Memories of Baseball

I never played baseball as a child; I was more the academic non-sport kind of kid who could be found at the library rather than on or near the playing field. But I have fond memories of trips down to Yankee Stadium each summer for the Old Timers’ Double-Header game.

My Aunt Joan and Uncle Bill organized the trip and it was also at their home in New Jersey where I witnessed Hank Aaron’s historic breaking of Babe Ruth’s home run record. That happened in April 1974. My family had driven down to visit my aunt and uncle and, as we usually did, we stayed over. I remember the broadcast of the game between the Atlanta Braves and the Los Angeles Dodgers was on a Monday night, April 8th. So after dinner we settled in to watch and see when Aaron would break the home run record. There seemed to be no doubt that he could and most of the American public were certain that it would be that evening.

And in the fourth inning, the pitch was hit off into left field, flying 400 feet into the bull pen. A record was broken and memories were made for me and my family. While these event doesn’t rank up there with the proverbial “where were you when . . .” events that most of us recall, for me it is cemented in my memory. Years later I would visit the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York and see the Hank Aaron induction plaque and the special exhibit highlighting that special day. And those same memories came back in an instant, just as they do every Spring when baseball season starts up again.

What Are Your Baseball Memories?
With Major League Baseball launching its new season this month, have you ever thought about baseball and your own memories or the memories of family members? Remember, every family story deserves to be cherished and preserved.

Here are some baseball-related ideas for your next project including recording interviews using Saving Memories Forever:

· Did you play Little League baseball as a child? What about others in your family?
· Have you ever watched a professional baseball game in person? (either as a child or an adult) Were there any special games you remember?
· What about your own children and grandchildren: Have you told them stories about your childhood and baseball?

© 2014, copyright Thomas MacEntee

Thomas MacEnteeThomas MacEntee is a frequent guest blogger for Saving Memories Forever. He is also a genealogy professional specializing in the use of technology and social media to improve genealogical research and as a means of interacting with others in the family history community. For more information visit

Plan Ahead: Mother’s Day Gift Ideas

Anna_jarvisAnna Jarvis worked long and hard to have Mother’s Day declared a national United States Holiday. But It didn’t work out as she had planned. Yes, she got the date recognized, but her intent was lost in rampant commercialization. Shortly after the holiday gained national stature, Jarvis scornfully labeled it a “Hallmark Holiday.”

There’s no denying that Jarvis was deeply disappointed. She reportedly found the practice of purchasing greeting cards especially irksome, seeing it as a sign of being too lazy to write a personal letter. She was, in fact, arrested in 1948 for disturbing the peace while protesting against this commercialization.

Today, many mothers receive and love cards and the flowers. You’ll even find a few of those funny talking Hallmark cards on our kitchen table. That said, we also see Anna Jarvis’s point. The real intent of Mother’s Day is to acknowledge mothers of all ages and that’s best said over a phone call, a visit, or a gift with personal meaning.

So here’s a short list of gifts that we think do a good job of underscoring her value. Since these ideas involve some planning and preparation, you should start soon.

Record some stories: Stories have universal appeal, especially when it’s a story about your family. There are several angles to this idea. If you are looking for an idea for your mother or mother-in-law, start rallying the troops and record stories that involve you, your siblings, your children and her. Stories could be about how you always love how she’s “there” when each year she sings Christmas carols loudly and enthusiastically. Or how your children giggle when she goes after them with tickles and kisses. If you are looking for an idea for your daughter or daughter-in-law, record some stories about your daughter’s childhood (or your son’s for a daughter-in-law). Then share those stories and listen to your family laugh. If you’ve got a smartphone you can easily do this by using the Saving Memories Forever system. On Mother’s Day listen to the recorded stories with her!

Make a digital photo album: Collect family pictures.Use your computer’s or digital camera’s photo-editing program to put together a slide show and burn it onto a disc. You’ll create a wonderful keepsake for the price of a blank CD. She can display the photos on her computer, and even use them as a screen saver. On Mother’s Day, enjoy watching the show with her.

Make a meal. Make a memory: Whether she’s your grandmother, your daughter, or your third step-cousin’s next-door neighbor, every mom deserves a little bit of pampering this Mother’s Day. So, why not serve her a fancied-up breakfast or a dinner made by you and the grandkids? Start planning now. Take a gander through the The Big Book of Breakfast with a roundup of 300 morning meals. Or plan something bigger: something that involves cooking time and a cookbook to share at the end of it.
There’s nothing that says “family” as well as the act of cooking. Cooking keeps traditions alive. Start by planning a family cooking date. Focus on making a recipe that is both meaningful to your family but also relatively easy, like making Greek cookies. As you make the recipe, record the instructions as “the cook” gives them. Take pictures as the recipe evolves. When you’re done, you can transcribe the words and produce a digital cookbook recipe. Or upload the cook’s recorded voice instructions (along with the background laughter) to a service like Saving Memories Forever and you can listen to those spoken words again and again. You can give her the cookbook or share the recording with her on Mother’s Day.


Photo Party!

photo album on iPadAhhhh…spring has sprung and everyone is itching for a party…a get together…a soiree. Now that the winter blues have passed, a family story party is a perfect way to bring everyone together and celebrate!

Here is how it works. Call up the members of your family and ask them to bring two photos to the party. One picture should be of the extended family and one should be of their immediate family.

photo albumGather everyone in a comfy sunlit room (or better yet, your patio) with some simple snacks and then get your Saving Memories Forever App ready. Use the new Celebrations Category on the App. The Celebrations Category lets you record for a special occasion like a wedding anniversary, birthday or, in this case, a mini family reunion.

If you’re a little uncertain about how to do this, listen to the recorded Advanced Webinar. It’s available on the Saving Memories Forever website. You have to be a member to have access to this (and other webinars).  So sign up for Free. Then log in and click on the text “Get Our Free Resources”. You’ll see that text on the My Memories screen that comes up automatically when you log in.


Fun Twists

Back to the photo party! Have each person take a turn telling the story about the people in the picture and record the stories. And, if you want to do more, here are some other fun twists to this activity.

1. Number each picture and have the family member say their name and the picture number to start the recording. Scan all of the pictures and store them on your computer with the number as the file name. Use the Saving Memories Forever website to attach the pictures to the family reunion story. There is no reason why the same picture can’t be attached to different stories providing different perspectives.

2. After you have recorded the stories, have everyone lay out the pictures on the dining table. Play each story and have the kids go pick the picture they think matches the story.

3. If there is a picture that involves several people in the story…pass it around and ask each person to tell their version of the story.

4. After all of the stories are collected, use the download capability of Saving Memories Forever to burn a CD of the stories for each person that attended and give them a copy. If you’re really feeling creative, make a little book of all the pictures to go along with it.

Remember, if you’re not quite sure where the story best fits, you can always use the “Other” question down at the bottom of each list of story prompts.  Just remember to tag that story with lots of key tag words when you’re managing it later on the Saving Memories Forever website,.

Pictures are a fabulous way to get the stories flowing! Enjoy the creativity of Spring!

kim-weitkampKim Weitkamp has been featured on NPR (National Public radio), SiriusXM, and other radio stations throughout the states. Kim is passionate about the power of story and story coupled with genealogy/family history. She regularly keynotes on those topics and can be reached through her website,