Monday, July 26, 2010

The House that Built Us...

Today is my Mama Jo's birthday! All 5 of us "Carter kids" were privileged to spend the evening with her in Saline. We had planned a special birthday surprise for her and were so excited to watch it all beautifully unravel.

My siblings and I recently went back to our old childhood home in Saline and took photos (with new owner permission) outside the house and around the property. It was such a wonderful experience for us all- we laughed, cried, reminisced, bonded and got a sweet taste of childhood memories and closure. It had been a while since all 5 of us had spent uninterrupted time together, and many years since we had all been out to our old farmhouse. We moved into this farmhouse when I was 5 years old and it really is the only home I can remember. This house holds a lot of dear memories (rope swings, riding bikes on old country dirt roads, family wiffle ball and homerun derby in the side yard, lilac trees and peony bushes, rhubarb, catnip, stray cats, playing barbies on the front porch, standing over the furnace in a nightgown on a frigid mid-winter morning, the crisp clean natural smell of the old dirt basement, the clawfoot bathtub, our names engraved on front porch, mom painting the porch steps red, bay window and a tiny kitchen, her sewing machine on the dining room table, one main bathroom for a family of 7, hot steamy summers and cold chilling winters, black starry nights and shaded summer days, fresh sun tea right off the backporch, turtles from the creek, snakes and machetes, huge piles of autumn leaves, corn fields and wide open spaces, Ernie Harwell and Tigers baseball billowing out the open kitchen window, cicada bugs and queen anne's lace, not having a lot but not realizing it because we had so much with each other...)

We thought it would be a nice birthday surprise for my mom if we took some photos of all of us kids outside the old farmhouse and had them framed to give to her on her birthday. In addition, we gave her this DVD that was put together using the photos we took from our recent journey down old familiar country roads, and we watched it together with her this evening.

This is a tribute to her and all she has built into us over the years. We love you Mama Jo!

The House that Built Us from Amanda Schrieber on Vimeo.


  1. That is just wonderful! What a great birthday gift for your Mom.

  2. Oh. My. WORD! What a perfect, priceless gift! I just bawled my eyes out through the whole thing! I can't imagine what this meant to your mamajo!

    Your description of your childhood was truly magical (partially because it reminded me so much of my own & aroused a nostalgia within me). I love, love that you included the lilac & peonies, queen anne's lace & catnip (some of my very favorite flowers!) I remember a love hate relationship with the autumn leaves...loved, loved raking & jumping in them, loved their scent, and they way they blew in the wind, but HATED having to load them up in garbage can and wheel them to the back field where the burn pile was!

    By the way, I was drooling over that farmhouse - a lovely American Foursquare. The bay windows, side stoop, rock porch... be still my heart!

    Thanks for sharing this piece of your world. I loved it.

  3. Wow - THIS mama Jo is cryin her eyes out, I cannot imagine how much it meant to YOUR mama Jo. Such sweet love. Beautiful!

  4. My kids never cease to amaze me!!! This was the BEST BIRTHDAY EVER with memories and emotions swelling in me. I really didn't know I had that many tears in me. Tears flow EVERY time I watch this and I cannot stop watching it over and over and over and...

  5. Mom- I have watched it over and over and over again too. I cried the whole time I was putting it together and still get teary when I watch it (even when it's the upteenth time!)

    You are a wonderful Mom and I am so thankful for the childhood you gave me. I always felt loved and nurtured. You never cease to amaze me...5 kids, I wonder how you did it!

    You are my Wonder Mom! I love you.

  6. Wow, it turned out as beautiful as I thought it would. So beautiful and meaningful. Glad mama Jo loved it. I agree with Erica, love that house "that built you". What a treasure. Good job Amanda as always, you are my creative hero!