A few years ago a dear friend from home showed me a beautiful quilt her sister-in-law had made for her son for his graduation. It was a whimsical array of of old t-shirts, baby blankets, sports jerseys, family sayings- all those great little memories you want your kid to have when they leave the nest. It truly was an amazing and emotionally overwhelming piece of art. I was so inspired by this idea that, despite my lack of quilting skills, I’ve started to make one for my own son as a gift for his upcoming graduation.


Layout of one side of the quilt for my son.

Unfortunately, because I didn’t plan ahead, I hadn’t done the best job at collecting things to include on the quilt. This past summer I made a trip to Joann Fabrics and purchased an assortment of fabrics that represented his favorite tv shows, hobbies and a world map panel that I sewed dots on to show all the places we’ve been. This exercise made me wonder what other expatriate families are doing to preserve memories from their time abroad. So I contacted a couple of the families we’ve met along the way. They are both great examples of those ‘really fun’ families. You know the ones I am talking about- those families who live their lives with zest and a sense of adventure- those families who aren’t afraid to try anything- those families that, at least from my perspective, you aspire to be.

I’d like to share their stories with you in hopes that they inspire you and your family to plan ahead and find a fun way to preserve the memories from your time abroad.

Emma and Lizzy’s Story


Snow globes from the places Emma and Lizzy have lived.

The snow globe that started this tradition is “It’s a Small World” Snow globe. My grandparents had gotten it for me when I went to Disneyland for the first time. It was perfect in a million different ways. The figure inside spun around while the theme song would play. I played it and played it until the battery ran out. I was two.

From that point on, everywhere we went, the kids’ main job was to find a cool looking snow globe. My favorite one is our Matterhorn one because it’s cool looking and always reminds me of skiing and hanging out with friends in Switzerland.

Considering how often we moved, some have broken along the way. Sometimes, when I walk by the snow globes, I realize that I take for granted all of the trips and vacations we have been on. Then I remember how lucky I am to be living overseas and to have gone to all of these places. The cool thing is that our collection keeps growing and growing.

From Emma Rekate, age 14


So, my family and I collect snow globes from all around the world. Everywhere we go, we get a snow globe that has some special meaning to it. For example, when we went to Jungfrau, the highest mountain peak in Europe, and we got a snow globe that had the mountains and snow in it! The different snow globes that we have just show how diverse our life is. My family and I always try to go into a gift shop or a museum store and find the one that we like best. But, in some cases if some places don’t have snow globes, we improvise! We would probably get a mini statue of a famous landmark, or get a small little trinket like an ornament, or a key chain to put on our luggage or our backpacks.  It is such a cool collection, and it just shows how much fun we have in every place that we visit across the world, or even just across the border!

From Lizzy Rekate, age 12


Kari Wint’s Story


The concept of framed boards came from a scrapbook. I’d seen all these women create such beautiful, elaborate works of art and even attend workshops on how to make the perfect showcase for their family memories, but then close that beautiful book up and put it on a shelf until the next time it was safe to open it up and tell the stories in that book to someone without seem like she was boasting or bragging about their summer in Tuscany. I didn’t want to close our memories up in a book on a shelf. And I didn’t want to be “that Mom” that pulled out the kids photo albums with every guest and seem to dote on braggingly about all the amazing places our family was fortunate to see. So instead, I framed a few pages from a scrapbook. This way, I could look at it everyday on our wall and remember the time we found a beautiful water fountain in Prague that was being cleaned so instead of water coming out, it was bubbles! Guests that saw it were genuinely interested and asked questions, and it was a statement about the family we were, without actually having to say a word. We were a family that lived abroad. We lived through some challenging stuff. We’d traveled. We’d seen some amazing things. We did that! Those framed scrapbook pages have opened the doors to some incredible conversations. And more importantly, as our kids grow, it reminds them of who they are and what they’ve accomplished! ..that the world is not so big. …that they can go anywhere and anything is possible! …to face fears and challenges with sense of adventure! That has been the biggest reward from these little framed boards.


“And more importantly, as our kids grow, it reminds them of who they are and what they’ve accomplished! ..that the world is not so big. …that they can go anywhere and anything is possible! …to face fears and challenges with sense of adventure! That has been the biggest reward from these little framed boards”.



Are you inspired yet?

Do you need some more ideas on how you can preserve you family’s memories? Check out my Pinterest site where I’ve set up a board to help you plan.


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