Another family vacation is coming up, which for me means thinking once more about the pre-nostalgia of family photos. While blog posts are ostensibly for visitors, the audience I care more about is actually future me.
Just before a 2013 trip, I wrote “Nostalgia Comes Early,” a post about memories and why I go to the trouble to share these posts — as much with my future self as with readers (I continued this thought later with Recovering the Past Through Photos).
Every successive family trip creates a magnitude more data than the one preceding it. I have exactly 10 photos from the first time I visited Walt Disney World, with my then-fiancée in 2001. I have only fuzzy memories of the trip. A year or so later I returned back to Florida (Key West this time) for a honeymoon with her, a trip that has zero photos. I remember maybe a half dozen things we did but few locales visited.
Contrast this with a 2013 Disney World trip, for which we made a whole blog, A Special WDW Family. The focus was traveling Disney with autistic kids. There’s a lot of information in there. We wrote about meals and rides, small victories, and child meltdowns. The bandwidth of memories isn’t just in the number of jpeg files but in the distinct memories I have of the events of that week-plus.
We took many hundreds of photos over our most recent family vacation in December 2015, only a small fraction of which went online. In addition, I have Google Location data for the trip and Foursquare checkins logged in Evernote. I know how many steps I took each day. I know whether I had a good sleep. We didn’t make a public blog but we have a long annotate log of each restaurant and stop, with annotation tips to remind our future selves about how we could do things better in the future. The metadata is in itself not so important, but it’s useful to be able to drop into a day and remember what we did and see the smiles (and tiredness) on faces each day.
We’ve gotten into the habit of visiting Howell’s Living History Farm up in Mercer County, N.J., a few times a year as part of homeschooler group trips. In the past, we’ve cut ice, tapped trees for maple syrup, and seen the sheep shearing and carding. Today we saw the various stages of wheat – from planting, to harvesting, threshing, winnowing, grinding, and baking. I love that there’s such a wide vocabulary of specific language for all this – words I barely know outside of biblical parables (“Oh wheat from chaff!”) and that there’s great vintage machinery (Howell’s operations are set around the turn of the twentieth century).
Grinding the wheat
I just love the lettering on the bottom of the grinder
Gregory on the crank
A horse- or steam-powered thresher had great lettering
Another piece of equipment had a great font.
Detail of the grinder
Stove in the kitchen
In the kitchen we made bread
Fields around the farm.
Wheat. This is a special kind of spiked wheat that discourages deer.
Horses coming back from the freshly plowed field.
The most popular post on my blog, year after year (and now decade after decade), is a 2005 piece on baby names: Unpopular Baby Names: Avoiding the Jacobs, Emilys and Madisons. We used the techniques listed to aid in our attempt to give our own kids classic names that wouldn’t be overused among their peers. The 2015 numbers are out from the Social Security Administration. How did we do? The charts below shows the respective rankings from 2015 to the year they were born.
The names of our two “babies” — Gregory, 5, and Laura, 4, are both less popular now than they were the year we named them. Yea! They’re both in the low 300s – viable names but far from overused.
Francis, now 10, was dropping in popularity and dropping into the low 600s. With that trend, we actually worried about the name becoming too unpopular. But an uptick started in 2010 and became pronounced in 2013 when an Argentinian named Jorge Mario Bergoglio decided to start calling himself Francis. The name is now in the high 400s.
The popularity of our eldest son’s name, Theodore (“I’m Theo!, don’t call me Theodore!”), started off in the low 300s was holding steady within a 20-point range for years until around 2009. In 2015 it cracked the top 100. It’s only at 99 but clearly something’s happening. Equally disturbing, “Theo” wasn’t even on the top 1000 until 2010, when it snuck in at position 918. Since then it’s leap 100 spots a year. It’s currently at 408 with no sign of slowing.
And for those of you looking to spot trends: did we just call our names early? Maybe “Francis” isn’t a slow climb but is about the go shooting for the top 100 in two years time. Maybe “Gregory” and “Laura” will be all the rage for mothers come 2020. Yikes!
Last year, the kids and I made a framed handprint collage-like present for Julie and Mothers Day (right). This year I followed it up with a folksy photo of each of the kids holding up hand-drawn letters spelling out “LOVE.” This was inspired by this 2009 post on a blog called The Inadvertent Farmer.
The first step was getting pictures of each kid with a letter. It wasn’t too bad as I just had to take enough to get each one looking cute.
A trickier task was finding a frame to display four pictures. It took the third store before I lucked out. Because of the timing, I had actually printed the pictures before I had the frame and so had fingers crossed that the size would work.
Once made, the absolute hardest was getting a group shot of the kids with Julie holding it!
And I’m afraid there will be some amount of Disneymania when the family goes to Florida after Thanksgiving.