Tag Archives: Family

Vacation Bound – Making Memories with a New Camera

Welcome Wendy, one of our favorite bloggers!

My style of writing is very conversational. I usually just start on a whim from a single thought and go from there. This usually works for me, but apparently not when I’m so ready for a vacation from work that I could cry. My vacation starts the day after tomorrow, and I won’t return for 12 days. I cannot express how happy this thought makes me. I’m looking forward to 12 solid days of family togetherness.

Family Vacation New Memories

We are going on a trip, but not until the middle of next week. Before that, my girls will be going on their first field trip at school (with their mother in tow). The documenter will be present, of course. The day after that is their classroom Spring Party, and I just received word from their teacher that one of my little kittens will be getting Student of the Week. It’s Haley. The one I missed last time. The award will be given this Friday at chapel, and come hell or high water…Mommy will be there this time! Redemption is near. I can taste it.

student of the week award

As any of you with a full-time career know, preparation to be out of work for vacation is clearly the most stressful time of all. I have the type of job where answers cannot wait long, so I have to be sure to fully prepare the unassuming co-workers I am leaving behind. I probably over-prepare people for my absence, but hopefully they appreciate it. I do not like to be surprised by other people’s emergencies, so I tend to treat others as if they wouldn’t want to be surprised by mine.


So, tomorrow afternoon…once the last email update is sent and the out-of-office assistant is turned on, this mother will be a happy camper. I will be happy to just be “mom” for a while…also known as “memory documenter extraordinaire.” Doing what I love most, even if only for a short period of time. Snapping pictures and rolling video in the hopes that my children can share it with their children and so on. We are a happy family, lovers of life…and making good memories is what we do best! I am looking forward to our new adventures with my camera in hand.

New Camera New Memories

If you’d like to follow Wendy personally, click here: www.preventivedoublemastectomy.wordpress.com


Picture Perfect Thanksgiving

By: Wendy Reynolds – Guest Blogger (personal links at end of blog)

So, the day of Thanks is coming up this week. I am really looking forward to having 23 members of my family in my house! And, yes, I’m being serious. 🙂 Hosting Thanksgiving is such a joy for me! I love my family, and I love to eat. It’s the perfect holiday!

As a child, my mom hosted Thanksgiving for many years, and I also remember going to some of my Aunt’s houses. However, there are far too few pictures documenting these wonderful times…and I plan to change this. It may be a little difficult since I am usually the photographer and I am also the hostess extraordinaire, but I’m sure with 23 other people around we can manage to get someone to take the photos.

I want my girls to remember these special times, and even though I remember them without pictures, we all know how many memories one photo can muster up. The good, the bad and the dysfunctional! My sweet grandmother has since passed, and she was the glue that held my large family together. She didn’t care where we all gathered or what we ate, as long as we were all together. Like any family, we could love each other one minute and hate each other the next, but she taught us on a holiday you suck it up and take one for the team!

Although she is missed dearly for the second Thanksgiving, I know she will be smiling down on us when we all gather under one roof on Thursday. I am honored that roof is mine! And I urge all of you who are gathering on Thursday to choose a camera person. Capture these moments of our lives that truly matter. Put your arms around each other and be thankful for all that we have. And take as many pictures as you can…MovieMe can always help us sort them out later!

Happy Thanksgiving to all…be blessed!

If you’d like to follow Wendy, click on the following links:

Blog: www.preventivedoublemastectomy.wordpress.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/wmreynolds

Dreams of Scrapbooking

Wendy is a thirty-something, native Floridian who is raising identical twin girls with her husband and their yellow lab, Charley. She loves to write and loves to make memories with her family. Her blogging days started as an avenue to share her experience with the BRCA1 breast cancer gene. She recently underwent a preventive double mastectomy to greatly reduce her risk of cancer, and her goal is to reach others in the same situation.

Visit www.preventivedoublemastectomy.wordpress.com to read her surgery story and laugh about her twin adventures.


I used to be an avid scrapbooker. I have an entire scrapbook devoted to a 7-day cruise, one outlining the first year of my dog’s life, and even a book about my husband and I building our own home. However, all these books are about, oh, 5 to 8 years old. Why aren’t there any recent ones? Well, because the adventure of turning twin preemies into twin 5-year-olds can surely cause a scrapbooking hiatus.

I assure you the lack of pictures is NOT the problem. In fact, the sheer number of pictures is so overwhelming that when I even try to organize the two card-catalogue type boxes from the first year, I completely freak myself out. As parents, we all know the real problem…it’s the lack of time and energy. I recently read a quote that summed it up great…”Toddlers have so much energy because they siphon it out of their parents like midget gasoline thieves.” I couldn’t have said it better myself.

The only scrapbook I have managed to complete “post-twins” was a 3-year anniversary present to my husband. It was a scrapbook dedicated to our wedding and honeymoon in Vegas. Yes, three years later. And it took every ounce of energy I could muster between the feeding and nap schedules of 10 month-old twins. I should have been sleeping instead, but he seemed grateful and let’s face it…the present was really for me. J

Since then, we have moved…which caused things to be “put” in places where I can no longer find them. And I have also acquired 4 more years of pictures that document every time my kids did anything cute, which when you are raising identical twin girls, every day is a new photo-op! I made an attempt to get started on a book for the girls about two years ago. My plan was to do a page spread for every month of their first year. I completed the first page of the album which highlights the first sonogram picture that clearly shows both of them. They were at 10 weeks gestation, and when I realized I still had to document my baby shower too, I got overwhelmed and quit. The book is now in a cabinet in my closet, and the plan to continue one day surely haunts me.

When the girls turned 3 and I went back to work…you know what happened to any smidgen of “available” time I had. It is now used to cook, clean (sometimes), put toys away, help with Kindergarten homework (who knew?), and catch up on my TV shows that I never get to see live anymore. It’s this crazy, busy life that we all lead at some point. So what do we do instead of documenting our own journey? We find someone to do it for us. Whether it’s one of the wonderful products from MovieMe, or simply a quick-fill photo book from a photography website…we need this help…we want this help…and our memories depend on it!


Overwhelmed with pictures? Learn how this client is being proactive!

Last weekend a couple/client took us out for dinner to thank us for the movie I made for their 25th Wedding Anniversary celebration. It was a great excuse to get together and spend time catching up. The Father knew his daughter was pulling pictures together for the movie but the Mother did not know. It was interesting to hear what was going on in their world, as their daughter was secretly trying to pull this off while on vacation – with her parents AND a slow internet line. When I would send a draft of the movie online, the daughter struggled with it starting and stopping due to the slow internet speed, which in turn caused her to be anxious, which in turn made Mom wonder what is going on??! It wasn’t funny at the time but it was funny at dinner to hear the story retold and how frustrated they were with each other. Thankfully, at the end of the day, it was worth every anxious nerve.

This family had already experienced a MovieMe product with their son’s graduation last year. In that movie, I snuck in some surprise interviews of her parents and parents-in-laws. After their daughter surprised everyone at the 25th Wedding Anniversary celebration with the ‘movie,’ the Mom told me she would never trust me at another family event! hahaha

The Mom shared how much she loves having the memories in this compiled format of a movie. So much so, she is proactively planning at storing all her photos, newspaper clippings, and video clips in one place for her next child graduating. We’ve talked about in previous blogs how difficult it is to start a project like this knowing the pictures are scattered around the house, in different boxes, in different rooms, still on the camera, etc…so it was interesting to hear a former client, who is now familiar with the process, to be proactive in keeping all raw footage, pictures and data in one place.

So you may not have the desire to dig and organize pictures/video clips from the past but keep a draw, envelope open for events moving forward. Start small and put together a short trailer that only requires 15-20 pictures. It still sends a message of love and who doesn’t like to receive a ‘movie’ made about them?!

Client’s Reflections and Recommendation of MovieMe

We (MovieMe) received a lead from our friends at http://www.NostalgicMedia.com about a husband, Bob Harrison, who wanted to put together a Celebration of Life party to honor the recent passing of his wife, Diane. Below you will read what this journey was like for Bob and his sons, Scot and Randy. And how we came together to create a legacy  product of an incredible woman, who touched so many people with her love and commitment, especially with her husband, sons and granddaughters.

Many thanks to Bob, Scot and Randy for trusting MovieMe with this delicate process.

by Bob Harrison (husband to Diane Harrison, father to Scot and Randy)

It has now been over five months since my wife of 46 years tragically and quickly passed away.  We were hiking in the Austrian Alps when she first noticed a slight abdominal pain which appeared to initially fade as we returned from Europe.  Then, over the course of a couple of weeks, the pain intensified.  Her doctor thought it was a deep muscle strain associated with my wife pulling against the airplane seat belt during our long transatlantic flight home.

Finally during a quick trip to Washington DC in mid-October, the pain became much worse as she awakened in the hotel room before returning home to Atlanta.  I called her doctor and we arranged an appointment immediately after our plane landed.  The doctor quickly told her to go to the Hospital Emergency Room and obtain a lower abdomen CT Scan.  After multiple additional tests the following week, Diane was diagnosed with Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer on October 26th.  On December 10th, she died in her sleep at home while holding my hand.  I provided all of her palliative care at home while being assisted by our two sons and the occasional critical visits by Hospice Nurses.

I am sure there is no good or best way to die.  This must be especially the case when ones goes from appearing to be in perfect health one day to leaving life two months later.  However, when compared to sudden, immediate death or a prolonging slow loss of coherency and physical strength over many months and years; in retrospect, I realize that we were spared more intense suffering and grief.  I do not think Diane was ever in physical pain.  We all suffered emotionally as we realized and ultimately talked intimately about her pending death and what a wonderful life we had lived together in love.

During the six weeks between Diane’s diagnosis and her death, my life was solely reactively focused on providing for her comfort and well-being.   Since she physically deteriorated so quickly, she quickly decided she only wanted to physically see my two sons and me beyond her professional healthcare providers.  My sons, both living remotely, rotated through several times with my youngest son sleeping upstairs in our home when Diane died at 438am on Saturday morning.  In order to attempt to react to all of Diane’s friends and family members who were shocked in hearing about her diagnosis, I was fortunate to find and fully utilize the CaringBridge website.  I posted periodic updates of her condition and she received thousands of postings in response.

We were overwhelmed with these postings, emails, cards, letters, flowers, food, gifts and ultimately, charitable donations.  Hundreds of people voiced their frustration in not being able to provide more support and actual help in Diane’s fight for life.

As Diane’s death became eminent, I found myself praying for her peace and comfort.  She was such an extraordinary woman that I was fully comforted in her life continuing in a life hereafter.  I often thought how my later years were always characterized in being convinced that I would pre-decease Diane.  I was older and one always hears about the longer life expectancy of healthy women compared to men.

Many years ago, Diane had begun voicing her desires to not have a conventional funeral or burial service.  I accepted this request without really questioning her motives.  However, I believe her request was grounded in the many very sorrowful family funerals she had attended over the years.  She had merely requested that her remains be cremated and ultimately mixed with my ashes with our sons disposing of them in a “special location”.

As Diane approached the end of her life, we had several extraordinary intimate and special talks.  Right until she started to sleep continuously, about four days before she died, she continued to attempt to “plan and organize”.  She was very worried about not being able to adequately respond to all the support we had received from so many friends and family members.  I shared her worries since I viewed it being my job to express our sincere appreciation.  I was also worried about many other things that I am sure burden any surviving spouses.  Diane was a fantastic mother and both of her grown sons worshiped her.  Their lives had been so influenced by her dedication, mentoring and hard work as she left a professional career to be a full-time, stay-at-home mother for both of them.

In addition, I must admit that I did not feel right about not having some form of memorial or ceremony to attempt to recognize Diane…a truly wonderful woman, wife, mother and friend to so many.

Ultimately, in one of our last short conversations together, Diane said…..”OK, if you feel that we should do something, why don’t you have a party”?   In the emotion of the minute, I just casually said “OK, I think we should do that”.   This was further reinforced with my final posting on CaringBridge when I emotionally confirmed to all her followers that I was going to have a Celebration of Life Party for Diane……sometime in the coming months.

It is now five months since Diane passed away.  The grief and sorrow are slowly fading with time, but the memories of Diane and the great life we spent together will always remain.  In addition, it is now one month since we had the Celebration of Diane’s Life Party.  Herein lies the purpose of this narrative.  I want to share with you what an extraordinary event this party was and how intensely it affected me, my two sons and everyone who attended it.

In the days immediately following Diane’s death, my two sons and I were together in our house focused on individually and collectively trying to rationalize her death and try to deal with our personal and collective grief and sorrow.  It was then that we began to discover the various forms of documentation that Diane, the family historian, had developed over the years.  There were twenty-one photo albums.  There was an album that her mother had given her that contained all the postcards and letters Diane had sent her for the first four years of our marriage.  Diane had a twenty-seven page document, called “Reflections” that contained her intimate thoughts and narrations about her life.  It was written over a twenty year period.  Diane also kept travel journals wherein she chronicled our various domestic and international travels over the last ten years of our marriage. We shared the postcards at the event.

As we discovered all of this, my two sons became enlightened in how we could put this party together.  It would be a simple case of digitizing a cross-section of the photographs depicting Diane’s life and then providing some narrative based on our memories and all the written words Diane had left behind.  It sounded so simple.

We then selected 290 photographs that we thought properly depicted Diane from infancy to our last trip together.  I then personally began the job of developing a written narrative of her life and all of the appropriate personal quotations she had made.  All three of us envisioned just scrolling the photographs while narrating appropriately.

When delivering the 290 photographs to Nostalgic Media for their digitizing, I was asked what I was ultimately going to do with the resulting DVD.  I described our objective and was quickly told that what we had in mind would be very difficult…..not only technically, but emotionally.   By some miracle Danielle West and her company MovieMe was suggested to me.

I called Danielle to see if she might be available to provide assistance.  The rest is history and ultimately ended up in the Celebration of Diane’s Life being a transforming event for, not only me and my sons, but for all the 150 other attendees.  Danielle singular provided the core competence to bring everything we had together into a program and four different “movies” to be used during the party.

My narrative of Diane’s life ended up consuming 61 typewritten papers.  It took me several weeks to transcribe and the final product was a very lengthy, intimate tale.   My sons both read it were concerned about the intimacy of the detail and how long the narrative was.  The other striking conclusion from our reviewing this narrative was that none of us would be capable of reading it.  It just was too emotional for us.

The digitized photographs came out well and were put into chronological order easily.  I then met for the first time with Danielle.  Her sensitivity, principles and character came blasting through when she became quite emotional about Diane and how much she wished she had known her.

In a very sensitive manner, Danielle led me to the process by which we would develop the process for the program.  The program would be composed of a continuously scrolling rotation of approximately 25 photographs of Diane from infancy to our final hiking trip to the Alps 3 months before she died.  This continuously playing movie would be played in the gathering/cocktail bar area where party guests would first arrive and meet.

The second and most consequential “movie” would be approximately 30 minutes of life-story photographs of Diane that would be narrated.  Danielle quickly understood the challenges of my participating in the narration and ultimately decided that she would personally voice Diane’s direct quotations and a local actor, Tom Clark, would provide the 3rd party narration.  I was tremendously relieved.

Diane had written a letter in her deathbed to her 7 year old granddaughter.  This letter was given to her parents who were told to give it to Elisabeth in the future “when they feel she is old enough”.  Elisabeth’s father, our oldest son Scot, would read the letter at the party and there would be a scrolling picture movie depicting Diane at various times with her granddaughters, Elisabeth and her 3-year old sister, Isabella.

I then provided Danielle with a list of approximately 10 songs that were Diane’s favorites.  Danielle then did the amazing job of coordinating the scrolling photographs with the music and with the narrative.  The final product was an extraordinary representation of the life of a woman who was uniquely capable of loving and being loved.

On April 14, 2012, one hundred and fifty close friends and family members attended The Celebration of Diane’s Life.  Many of the people attending did not know each other since they came from various periods of her life.  They came from four different companies and fourteen different states.  No one really knew what to expect.  No one had ever been to a “Party” of this type.

The party unfolded perfectly.  The pictures, narrative and music surged from being very sad and emotional to being invigorating and, at times, humorous.  When the final movie clipped closed and I closed the party with my hands pointing up and said “Diane, I am Coming, Thank you”, all the attendees immediately stood up and came forth with a standing ovation.  I cried to myself.

As Diane’s close friends and family left, they all sought out me and my sons.  I have never heard so many emotional comments about the experience at the party.  Several women hugged me and were crying.

Over the next weeks, I received huge written thank you notes expressing emotions that are rarely put in writing.  Three of my male friends took me out to lunch and jokingly indicated they were very mad with me.  Apparently, their wives had taken them aside after the party and declared that they did not want a funeral.   Rather, they wanted to have a party just like Diane’s.

I am now reflecting up the unique accomplishments of this party.  It accomplished everything that I could have dreamed of…….and more.

The preparation of the party and culminating with the party provided a turning point for our recovery from the tragedy of Diane’s death.  We no longer feel sorry for ourselves and are wallowing around in grief and sorrow.  Diane’s party provided a pivot for our focusing on the blessings of her life and the huge positive impact she would always have on our lives.

The party provided a perfect mechanism for me to thank everyone for all the many gifts and messages of support that were sent to Diane as she was dying.  Everyone was frustrated with their inability to help Diane as she approached the end of her life.  However, this party reconfirmed their ongoing love for Diane and her love for them.

The party also honored a remarkable woman.  It was a “love story and a war story”.  It depicted in pictures and words how a beautiful woman affected so many people in what she did, how she did it and who she was.

If you are faced with the personal tragedy of the death of a loved one….if you and need help in managing your grief, voicing your appreciation and/or honoring your loved one; Danielle West/MovieMe has a magic wand of creativity with deeply seeded emotion.

Not Enough Photos?

Do you want to put a movie together but you don’t have enough pictures, can’t find them or the pictures were lost during a move…well, we have an alternative ‘movie’ offering for you!

A couple of months ago we shared with you that we were working on a ‘movie’ of triplets graduating high school. In a couple other projects, we had videotaped family members making a surprise cameo and suggested to do the same for this ‘movie.’

The parents of these triplets agreed and we set a time and date to video their stories walking down memory lane. A friend joined me to help by videotaping the parents at the same time but at a different angle. I love including non-posed shots to make the taping look more natural. These parents were prepared! They had a script so they wouldn’t forget any of their highlights. Instead of just providing a 30 second story, they walked through the triplets’ birth – graduation. As they walked through each scenario, I recalled pictures from their original ‘movie’ we had already completed that I could blend into their story. iMovie was the perfect user-friendly software to use. During each of their stories, I would cutaway with a picture or insert picture in picture and for one particular story, I inserted video of a funny story inside the parent’s memory video. Instead of trying to tell a story with over 300 photos, we used approximately 30 photos. Stay tuned to our Facebook page for a short commercial showcasing this ‘movie’ offering. http://www.fb.com/MovieMe

Consider this alternative if you want to make a ‘movie’ to preserve your memories but don’t have enough pictures. Tell us what you think about this idea? Is this something you would do?

Let’s – Get – a Little Bit Rowdy!

I’ll jump on the thankful bandwagon of what I was thankful for this past Thanksgiving. I’ve been really blessed. Over two years ago, I was fortunate enough to resign from my 20 year corporate sales position. Because of our shift in how we managed money, over 5 years ago, we have increased our quality of life. This quality of life is not seen in material possessions but in our time together. Our sacrifices have allowed me to continue staying at home and investing my time, that would have been spent at work, with our family. It has also allowed me to build a small business that not only provides income but is incredibly fun to do.

Just recently, I was asked to put a Cheer Video together for an end of the year banquet. It was quite a challenge to put it together in one week but nothing like working under pressure, right?!  Initially, it was only the JV, which my stepdaughter is a part of, and then it very quickly became the whole high school squad, Freshmen up through Varsity. What an incredible opportunity to build a movie for so many families and be a part of my stepdaughter’s banquet in a special way. Obviously, my hope is she will be proud of the final product. I received almost 800 pictures from various sources and thankfully I had taken several video clips throughout the year. Blending both still photos and video clips makes this more than just a slideshow, to me it makes it more movie-like. There’s a fun clip in the movie where my husband stands up when the JV team is doing “Let’s – Get – a Little Bit Rowdy,” by himself and waves his arm up in the air. I videotaped this both from behind Dad and in front of Dad, giving the audience both views. The best part is when Dad thinks the cheer is over and starts clapping and watching his daughter laugh from embarrassment. Did he really just do that?! haha

To date, I haven’t put a movie together for such a large audience. Saturday afternoon I finalized the packaging of the DVDs into clear plastic bags with red and white ribbons along with a postcard about MovieMe. Ironically, my husband and I will be out of town and cannot attend the banquet. I can’t believe I will miss a showing of my own movie! If there is a chance to catch an earlier flight, my plan will be to make the banquet. It would be fun to watch the audience’s reaction!

I am grateful for my family, I am grateful to stay home (thank you husband!), I am grateful to have a small business and with this recent project, I am grateful to contribute towards my stepdaughter’s cheerleading banquet event! Go Eagles!!