Capture the Moment a Story at a Time

September 7, 2015

Written by: Devon Lee

Part of the problem with memory keeping is that we try to do it in big chunks when we ‘remember’ to. How sad! Just as sap comes out of a maple tree one drop at a time until a bucket is full, some of the best moments happen in flash but are soon forgotten. If we do not capture them bit by bit, then our bucket does not fill.

When my eldest daughter was three, she taught me a profound lesson. “The work goes faster with two.”

This little princess was giving sage advice to her mother who was raised in Texas and was now facing a driveway in an upstate New York winter. Translation, the driveway was covered with ice and snow. As I scrapped and then shoveled each heavy pile off the driveway, I grumbled and gripped. My husband needed a place to park when he returned home from doing shift work. I didn’t have a snow blower and that driveway was insanely long. Oh how I wished someone would come by to lend me a hand. Pretty selfish, but my wish was answered by a 3 year-old in a puffy pink jacket.

Mind you inside our home, the winter jackets hung on a rack that was anchored to the wall at my eye level. My daughter had to drag a chair 12 feet from the kitchen table to the coat racks, climb on, and take down her snow gear (including snow jumpsuit). She bundled up without any adult help, found the extra snow shovel in the garage, and came out to be of service. Remember, she’s three! She greeted me with the words, “The work goes faster with two.” She was absolutely right.

A decade later, I remember this small moment because of two things. First, I took out a camera and photographed her. Secondly, I wrote down the story and printed it in a family book. Had I not done either of those two things, the memory of that priceless moment would be lost.

Now, not all memories have to be so profound or mushy. Sometimes, they are cute and funny.

Imagine a 4 year-old saying, “I didn’t drown!” with a huge smile on his goggled face.

I have feared my children drowning since before they were born. I’ve had numerous nightmares of such events throughout their life. So, when I’m at the community pools, I am a touch paranoid. Thankfully, most lifeguards are on the lookout to prevent tragic events and I have allowed my four oldest children to play at the pools without me hovering over them.

I didn't drownThe baby of the family has had ups and downs with swimming but at the end of the summer when he was 4, he was so confident. He had learned to swim a length of the lap pool without any help. He had learned to dive. He desperately wanted to go off the diving board. In short, the boy could swim. And yet, I didn’t really want him in water where he couldn’t touch the bottom if I wasn’t nearby.

There was a raft in the pool that children could climb on and the 4 year-old set his sights on it. The raft is in fairly deep water for someone his age. Nevertheless, he jumped into the water and made his way to the raft. With blue goggles strapped to his impish face, he smiled with a big grin and told me, “I didn’t drown!” In other words, ‘Chill out mom, I’ve got this.’ So these words were so darn cute and made me laugh.

When we went to a separate pool a few moments later, the water temperature was rather warm. He jumped in and said, ‘It feels like swimming in pee!” The mushy moment was soon replaced with a gut-busting one (with a little concern thrown in).

All of these small moments are preserved for our family’s benefit, and now yours, because we took the time to write down the things we say. These moments happen in a blink of an eye. If I hadn’t documented them when I heard them, they would be lost. The pressures of the day and the business of being a parent of five kiddos lead me into rooms when I can’t remember why I went or where I put my keys. It’s impossible to remember these quips a few months later, or even a few hours later. But when such moments happen, I stop and take notes.

Be sure to capture the cute, funny, and profound things that are said by you and your family members. Do it a little at a time and soon your bucket of family memories will be full and overflowing.

Devon LeeFamily historian, author, and home schooling mother of five, Devon Noel Lee has 20 years of genealogy and memory keeping. Her purpose to is help others capture and preserve their family history before the stories are lost forever.  You can learn more about Devon’s passion for family history on and Facebook.