Book Recomendations, Homeschooling, Memories, Parenting

Memory: Prime 1 and Prime 2

When I play a concentration game, why I do I remember the first card I turn over? Always.

Why does the first day of vacation stand out from the rest? Why do I remember my first child’s milestones better than his siblings? Or my first vegetable garden when I was newly married?

I learned the answer after my boys were in college. I discovered Summarization in Any Subject: 50 Techniques to Improve Student Learning by Rick Wormeli. 

Research proves that we remember best what we experience first, and we remember second best what we experience last—also known as Prime 1 and Prime 2. That is why pastors, teachers, and motivational speakers begin and end with memorable scripture passages or examples.

Along the way, I should have started and ended lessons with my major points. Even more, now I should begin and end my day with what is most important.

What is your Prime 1 and Prime 2?

Memories, Parenting, Photos

Picture of the Day

Are you considering new habits for the New Year? Along the way, I learned that regular habits sometimes—well, usually—disintegrated into irregular ones. I also learned that irregular habits can still be valuable.

When my middle son went to college, his younger brother urged him to take a Picture of the Day, POTD, and email it to the family. I thought POTD was our family’s acronym, not commonly used for Poll of the Day and, more accurately, Photo of the Day.

My middle son daily emailed a POTD the first two weeks, and then sporadically the rest of his college years.  

A Junior Year POTD

My youngest took POTD seriously his freshman year. POTDs dropped off during his sophomore year. Junior year was more accurately Picture of the Week—although still labeled POTD.  Senior year became Picture of the Month.

A Freshman Year POTD

Fifteen years later, my husband and I still have the thrill of receiving emails and texts with POTD in the subject line. The frequency and regularity have decreased, but the habit continues, keeping our family connected—and sometimes amused—over hundreds of miles.

Has an irregular habit benefited you? Perhaps, kept you connected?

Basics, Christmas, Parenting

Processing Moments

My husband and I attended a writers panel at the 2019 Boston Marathon Expo. Our goal was to hear our favorite runner, Meb Keflezighi, speak. However, another Olympian spoke the words I remembered most.

Marathoner Deena Kastor was asked, “What did you learn from writing your memoir, Let Your Mind Run?”

We move on and don’t process. Take in moments and don’t move on. Take it in so you can be wiser from your moments.

Deena Kastor 2004 Olympics Bronze Medalist

I immediately thought about my tendency to move on and how much—both good and bad—I had glossed over. Or ignored.

Along the way, I told myself I didn’t have time to slow down and process what was happening to me and around me. However, as soon as Denna said “Take it in so you can be wiser from your moments,” I knew she was speaking truth, and I wished I had been following her advice for years.

Any advice on processing this year’s Christmas moments?

Christmas, Parenting

St. Nicholas Day

While a friend told me about her daughter’s stolen bike, her five-year-old interrupted. “We don’t need to pray about my bike, Mommy. I’ll ask Santa Claus for one.”

While I was telling my second-grade Sunday School class about the birth of Jesus, little Charlie raised his hand. “Can we talk about what Santa Claus brought us instead?”

Those memories plus my own childhood anxiety of being “good enough” for Santa, kept me from playing the Santa Claus game with my children. I wanted truth. We read The Night Before Christmas, but we treated it as the fiction it was. Edna Barth’s Holly, Reindeer and Colored Lights helped explain cultural Christmas compared to the celebration of Christ’s birth.

However, I didn’t want Santa to seem like forbidden fruit. A friend in college had lamented the lack of Santa in her life. St. Nicholas Day helped bridge that gap.

One year, I surprised the children with filled stockings on December 6th, which was St. Nicholas Day.  We discussed the legends of St. Nicholas. That tradition continued a few years. Later, filled stockings made their way to my sons’ colleges as their exam-time care packages.

How have you handled cultural myths?

Memories, Parenting

Illustrations Matter

In Picture Book Revelations, I told how I vividly remembered the illustrations in Daddy’s Birthday Cakes. (See here.) I didn’t say it was approximately sixty years after I last saw that book. Therefore, why was I surprised when a son recalled illustrations from picture books I read to him thirty years ago?

As we reminisced during last night’s phone conversation, my youngest described three favorite picture books by their illustrations, not their plots: the book with the boy and his flashlight, the book with the boy wearing a blue sweater, the book with elaborately dressed animals riding in a carriage.

I pulled the described books from my bookshelves while my son searched for the covers online to confirm my guesses.

A flashlight is necessary for a successful sleep out.
Titch wore the same blue sweater during all his adventures
Piggins’ acquaintances rode in carriages. He solved mysteries.

Why did I recall all three titles within seconds?

What we see with our eyes matters. Regardless of the style, illustrations have a lasting impact—even more than I realized until an unexpected conversation with one son.

What do you visualize from your childhood?