As you can probably imagine, I’ve been a whole lot more sentimental about family since we reconnected with my dad’s maternal family in 2018. I’ve mentioned many times that we experienced a miracle, and it’s made me treasure the family I’ve always known even more. I recently reflected on some of my favorite childhood memories, and this is the book that got me reflecting: Lara Avery’s, The Memory Book:

Sammie McCoy has some serious over-achiever type goals. After she wins the National Debate Tournament and graduates as valedictorian, she’ll attend NYU and subsequently make a name for herself as a human rights attorney. So, she has absolutely no time for Niemann-Pick Type C, an aggressive disease that will steal her memory and eventually render her brain-dead. Sadly, this is Sammie’s new reality, even if she’s unwilling to accept it.

Determined not to succumb to her disease, Sammie logs important details, memories, predictions and dreams on her computer in what becomes her “Memory Book.” Sammie writes candidly about her senior year when she catches the eye of her long-time crush, Stuart; navigates her friendship and debate partnership with Maddie; reminisces about her childhood with bad-boy Cooper and tries to convince her parents that she is still well enough to attend NYU.

Sammie is a fighter. She’s trying to pack a whole life into the time she has, and she’s determined to win against a devastating disease. I thought her quirkiness and confidence were particularly endearing, and I really enjoyed reading about her family’s interesting dynamic and somewhat alternative lifestyle. This is another book to recommend to fans looking for heart-breaking stories like All the Bright Places, The Fault in Our Stars and Thirteen Reasons Why. This book is also a 2018-19 Gateway Nominee.

The Paper Time Capsule

While on a girls’ trip last year, I just happened to stumble on this little gem:

I LOVE the idea of traditional time capsules, and plan to bury one in my backyard this year to celebrate the birth of my baby in May (more on that soon!). But, as you know if you’ve read some of my past blog posts, I’m also a fan of writing sappy letters to some of my dearest friends and the owner of my childhood bookstore. The paper time capsule I found on my girls’ trip includes 12 fold-out cards, each with a writing prompt to inspire you to share a special message with mom. Prompts include “One thing I’m glad we share is. . .”, “I always think of you when. . .” and “The best adventure we’ve ever had together was. . .” Filling out the cards is the perfect #plotdrivenlife experience to complement Lara Avery’s book.

I chose to cut out the cards, and I’m going to fill them out periodically and mail them to my mom who lives in British Columbia, Canada, so she unexpectedly gets a special treat from me. You could fill out all the cards in the capsule and send it in its entirety if you prefer. Regardless, I think this is a powerful way to communicate gratitude and appreciation for my mom for all of the sacrifices she’s made for me, and, at the same time, it lets me celebrate some of my favorite memories of our time together. You could easily make your own cards and time capsule, but I just loved the cuteness of the cards with their “air mail” stickers and pretend postage stamps. In fact, I loved the capsule so much, I bought one for my dad, too.

There are a variety of other paper time capsules available to send to loved ones and even a version you can send to your future self. What I know from reading The Memory Book and having grieved the passing of beloved family members is that now is the time to treasure our memories and cherish the people we hold the closest. Would you prefer to send a paper time capsule to a loved one or write letters to your future self to store away? And what suggestions do you have for me to put in my traditional time capsule to commemorate 2019?

Happy reading,



  1. Rosie

    Love it! The kids and I made a very informal time capsul last summer as one of our bucket list items. Plan on doing it this year too. We did interviews of their favorite things, took measurements and traces handprints. I also had them draw/write some things gs to capture their little kid writing. I’m trying to remember what else we included.
    I also love the idea I got from a book about family traditions I read recently about making a family “day of” record. Everyday you have to record something silly (or serious) that you can look back on. The author said when her kids were in college and grown she’s still send them a little message – today is Susie made cupcakes for dinner day – or whatever. I love this idea too and may start it soon. A new (but fun and not serious) family tradition is on my 19 for 19!

  2. Nina

    Hi Kelly
    this post is very interesting. Honestly I find it heartbreaking. It gives me a lot of inspiration to write about my own dysfunctional family. Writing letters to my mum is very difficult for me. She is trying to create situations of guilt and shame and recently I sent her lots of loving messages on WhatsApp and she did not reply. I noticed that I was eating lots of sugar and I think it is from the emotional pain of not hearing from her. In fact my sister and I were always trying to compete for my parents’ attention (and still do). But recently we found a way to be allies too. And she is the only family I have right now that I should be writing to without feeling hurt.
    I will think about your post more.
    Thanks for your blog. I really like reading it. The new website is fab.


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