Threshold of a New Beginning

On the threshold of a new beginning, a point of entering.

This week, over at the Weekly Photo Challenge, Krista asks us to share a photo that captures that moment ‘just before a new beginning — that split-second moment in time, full of anticipation. All the hard work is over; relief is palpable.’

There are many photos I could have used for this challenge but the choice was easy.  This photo was taken in the mid 90s of my three children, dressed up for an Easter church service.  I was not a girly-girl, never have been, and my daughter (Aspie D) was/is the same, but I did love to make her a new dress every Christmas and Easter because I loved to sew.

I knew that she would happily wear the dresses when younger (and had no choice, awful mother that I am!) but I knew that it wouldn’t be for long before she refused so I got in there fast!

Having made that year’s Easter dress and bought the boys proper shirts and trousers for the service, I thought it would be lovely to take a nice photo of them in the back garden/yard before we left for church.

We hadn’t long lived in the house where this photo was taken, having lost our previous home due to the market crash of the early 90s and a serious problem with a neighbour who liked to stalk us and take pot shots from his roof with a high-powered rifle. (I’ll save this little bedtime story for another time.)

What matters now, is that we had settled in nicely and were on the threshold of a new beginning for our family.  We were no longer homeowners but tenants and we faced a long climb back up to rebuild in every sense of the word, yet the five years that we went on to live in that house were the happiest for my marriage and our family life.

Thinking, then, back to this time when I tried to take this photo and the kids just wouldn’t cooperate.  They were restless, wanted to get church over and done with so that they could get back home to the Easter Egg hunt we always held in our back garden,  back to their soon-to-be devoured chocolate as any kid would.

Trying to keep little Aspie D from running off and the boys from pawing at each other as boys do, never mind standing straight, proved to be impossible.  In the end, just before I took one last shot, they exploded into fits of laughter.

Three Kids Together, Paso Robles, California, 1990s (c) Sherri Matthews 2014

Three Happy Kids Together, Paso Robles, California, 1990s. Easter chocolate anyone? (c) Sherri Matthews 2014

Taken on the threshold of our new life together, it turned out to be one of my most treasured photos, one which reminds me of deep-held memories that, despite our  many challenges, we shared a good and rich family life in California filled to the brim with moments like these.

I’m also reminded that this same richness plays out in the joy and laughter shared with my adult children today.

‘The best thing about memories is making them’ – Anon

About Sherri

Sherri has worked in both the medical and legal fields in the UK and California, where she lived for 17 years raising her three children. Chasing her writing dream throughout, she began her writing career in earnest from home while caring for her Aspie daughter. Since then, Sherri has been published in a variety of magazines, anthologies and company websites. Today, she lives with her husband, daughter and two cats in the West Country of England where she keeps out of trouble writing her memoir, blogging, walking and taking endless photographs. Her garden robin muse visits regularly.
This entry was posted in Childhood Memories, My California, Weekly Photo Challenge, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

90 Responses to Threshold of a New Beginning

  1. What a lovely story and heartwarming photo. Thank you, Sherri, for a lovely post.

  2. Oh, I just love this photo, Sherri. It’s obvious there is joy in this family; a treasure to see.

    • Sherri says:

      Thanks Susan! I do love this photo for the joy it exudes. Makes me so happy to look at it, every time, and I’m so glad that you feel it too :-)

  3. Not only are you an accomplished writer you are a fantastic seamstress. Your talents never cease to amaze me Sherri. It is a wonderful photo . I love the way your son is doubled up with mirth and the memories you have shared with the picture make it that much more special. I’m looking forward to your bedtime story though I will probably read it during the day so I don’t have nightmares. Another wonderful post. Cheers Irene

    • Sherri says:

      Well, that’s very kind of you Irene, thank you, but it’s been a while since I did any sewing! Still, I did used to really enjoy making all those dresses and I’ve still got most of them packed away somewhere amongst the myriad of boxes we lug around with us wherever we go.. ;-)
      Ha! Yes, I’ll save that little bedtime story for later, but you can be sure I will definitely be writing about it. And it ‘ain’t pretty. But…there is a satisfactory ending but I shall keep you in suspense for now (sorry about that!).
      Right, I really must sign off now (already said night night!) so I’ll see you tomorrow!
      Cheers – :-)

  4. Tom Merriman says:

    Hi Sherri! What a coincidence! I’ve just written a post regarding being on the threshold of a new beginning, and this post is the latest post in my WordPress reader! I love a good coincidence I do!
    And great photo – such fun and happiness… always a good combination to get off to a great start!

    • Sherri says:

      Hi Tom! I have been working on catching up etc. and was about to come over to your blog to say thank you so much for the visit and the follow and I wanted to check out your blog too. So, another coincidence! Wow, looks like we were both on the same wavelength! So glad you enjoyed the photo, many thanks. I’ll be over to you now :-)

  5. Heyjude says:

    Oh no! You sound like my mother! She always insisted I wear pretty gingham dresses and bonnets, whereas I was happiest in shorts and a T-shirt. I vowed never to do that to my daughter, and she was, and is, a tomboy. One of her girls is the same, but the other is such a girly girl, my daughter and I look at one another and wonder where she has come from! Lovely post Sherri :-D

    • Sherri says:

      Haha!! Sounds as if you were put off for life! I think after having two boys I never expected to have a girl and when I did I went to town with my sewing ;-) She was a shorts and t-shirts girl too though and it was a nightmare taking her back-to-school shopping when she was 7 or 8 (she refused to wear dresses by that age) because all the girl’s clothes were far too prissy for her and dare I say even a little racey (and I’m no prude!!!). So she preferred the boys t-shirts and I don’t blame her! It’s funny isn’t it, it’s the way we are born I suppose. But then, if you are climbing trees and leaping off haystacks, as I was and I’m sure you too, dresses don’t really do the trick! Glad you enjoyed the story Jude, thank you ;-)

      • Heyjude says:

        I was the third child too and the only girl so I expect my mother wanted me to be a girly girl. Sadly for her I just wanted to do everything my big brothers did, and you are right, dresses just didn’t work!

      • Sherri says:

        That explains it then! Same with me and my three. I had a tomboy for a daughter but then I was too so I suppose I didn’t mind too much ;-) I always wanted to be just like my brother!!

  6. irodger says:

    Love the picture its so full of life and action. Now following and will return. Ian.

    • Sherri says:

      Hello irodger, many thanks for coming by and reading, and also for the follow! I very much appreciate it, and so glad you enjoyed this post. I look forward to your future visits and also to checking out your blog too! Lovely to meet you – Sherri :-)

  7. Denise says:

    Beautiful, rich powerful story and a lovely picture.

  8. Oh Sherri, what a great photo! Your oldest son’s expression is priceless. I love your daughter’s dress and her Easter bonnet…so sweet. Like you, I was never a girly, girly, but my mom liked to dress me up too.
    I can’t wait to hear more about the crazed neighbor!
    Thank you for sharing this beautiful memory. I just love these old photos! xo

    • Sherri says:

      Haha! Yes, I do love the way he is cracking up! As I said to Susan, he still laughs like that and I love it :-)
      Ahh, thank you Jill, so glad you enjoyed this post. I did enjoy Easter and having the chance to go out and buy her Easter bonnets and new shoes. It became a tradition, until she refused to wear dresses any longer when she was 7 or 8. I wanted to get in as many dresses as I could!
      I liked wearing dresses for special occasions and I remember when I was really young my mum made my dresses too so as with you and your mum, it was a nice tradition to hand down. Although it goes without saying that my daughter wants nothing to do with sewing, knitting, or anything like that!
      Oh, and yes, as for the crazed neighbour, well, don’t worry, I will tell all soon! It’s a post I’ve been building up to because sometimes I can’t actually believe it really happened…
      Hope you are having a better week Jill xo

  9. YES! Others having fits of laughter! This is a fantastic photo because it makes you want to know exactly what they were laughing at. What cuties. And the dimples on your eldest = priceless. I never could sew though I gave it a try in school and attempted to make a doll which ended up scaring me to death at nights. :)

    • Sherri says:

      Good timing Maria, in light of your fits of laughter post now that you mention it! Yes, I’m pretty sure it was because my daughter kept running off and it was descending into minor chaos, as it always seemed to!! So much for the ‘perfect’ Easter photo, but then this one turned out to the most perfect one of all ;-)
      Thank you, so glad you enjoyed it and LOL – that doll!! I am laughing right now at the thought of it! I must tell you though (and maybe I should write a post about it) my earlier sewing efforts were not exactly successful. In fact, yes, I will, and then you can see what I mean!
      Ironically, as I said to Jill, my daughter wants nothing to do with sewing at all!!
      I can’t get that doll out of my mind now, haha! :-)

  10. I think the best photos are the natural ones that capture real memories like these. Yes, it’s nice to have the professional shots of the happy family posed obediently, but really, photos like yours capture the stuff of life.

  11. Kristin says:

    What a lovely and heartwarming picture, the joy still comes across and makes one smile. Thanks for sharing!

  12. Oh Sherri, what a lovely moment captured in time. The dress that your daughter is wearing is absolutely adorable, I had no idea you were such a talented seamstress! Thank you for sharing such a lovely moment with us :)

    • Sherri says:

      Ahh, well, that’s very kind of you Heather, but honestly, little dresses like these are not difficult when following a standard pattern. I know I cheated too in places so always good not to look too closely ;-) But I did really enjoy sewing them back in the day! Thanks so much, really glad you enjoyed it :-)

  13. Rachel says:

    What a gorgeous photo! That’s pure joy on your eldest son’s face. And what an amazing dress you made. You’re very clever!

    • Sherri says:

      Ahh, thanks Rachel! I do love this photo, and yes, as I’ve replied to others, my son still laughs like that, very catching! This is one of my all-time favourite pics of my three together, back in the day… :-)

  14. Imelda says:

    What a precious moment you captured there. :-)
    I look forward to your little bedtime story. How unsettling would it be to have such a nasty neighbor. Good thing nobody was physically hurt by your neighbor’s (mis)adventures.

    • Sherri says:

      Thanks so much Imelda, so glad you like it :-)

      It was a very scary and troubling time and a situation we were very relieved to put behind us.

  15. Julia Lund says:

    I have a similar snapshot, two actually, that come from a time before some serious storms crashed through our life as a family.Unlike yours, I am the only one who sees mine, as they are imprinted in my memory, which means they are planted forever in my heart. It’s wonderful to have these moments, as they help us navigate the present. It’s no wonder the bible reminds us so often to remember the things God has done in the past; it helps build our faith when everything else screams to tells us we are abandoned; there is no hope. We know differently and your photo has reminded me of that again. Thank you for sharing it.

    • Sherri says:

      Hi Julia, yes, these family photos are very precious indeed. I have some I keep private and others I feel I want to share here but I know what you mean. The five years we spent at this house were good ones but then came yet more storms and so having these good memories helps me to focus on the good we had and the good we have now, my children and I, and what we have all endured as a family, as you can very much understand.
      Yes, you are so right, remember what God has done in the past, that is something I have to remind myself to do. It gives so much hope and faith for the present and the future. When I started sharing my stories from my former life in California with my young children, at first I wondered if going back to the past was a good thing but then I realised that actually it was as then I was able to see that there were many good things to share and this did indeed give me great hope.
      I’m so glad that you felt the same reminder Julia, bless you :-)

  16. Mabel Kwong says:

    Threshold of a new life, new beginning. Love your interpretation of the theme, Sherri. Your post reminded me of myself when I was a kid. Whenever my family went out to places such as theme parks and the zoo, my dad would always get me and my brother to pose with animals and funny-looking displays. Dad always instructed us to move a little bit to the left, a little bit to the right and I found this very annoying. I really didn’t – and still don’t – like posing for photos so I fidgeted a lot when dad asked me to :)

    • Sherri says:

      Thank you so much Mabel! Yes, haha, I can really relate to this! We have a joke in our family about all the times when I would stop everything to take photos! I tell them now though that they should be glad that I did otherwise we wouldn’t have any, lol ;-)
      Their father was as bad as them, never wanting to stop for photos and I had to ask for him to take some of me with the kids. I’m so glad I took all those photos now though, whether they fidgeted or not! Who knew that I would be sharing some of them on my blog one day in the future! Not to mention all the albums and box loads. I also made slideshows for each of them when they turned 21 so all those photos came in very handy! I can understand your feelings of not wanting to pose for photos but I know that one day you will be so glad of all those great pics your dad took ;-)

  17. What a precious picture! I can see why it’s one of your favorites. The dress is darling also. The rifle-toting neighbor is just scary!

  18. Glynis Jolly says:

    That is a picture that makes me smile. They really are happy kids. :)

  19. Easter mornings are very special, and you capture well your kids’ impatience through your photo and words. And of course the California sun is there too!

    • Sherri says:

      Thank you Evelyne and yes they are and I have many happy memories of our Easters spent in California beneath that all-too familiar sun :-)

  20. Such a happy photo :)

  21. Steven says:

    Wow, all that rich sunlight, all that laughter – this is such a warm photograph! Really nice to see. Great answer to the challenge. So, who found the most eggs? :P I know who my money’s on.

    I love your eldest’s hairdo, by the way – how very 90s! :)

    • Sherri says:

      That’s the Californian sun for you JG! This time of year was nice as it was before it got so hot that you couldn’t go outside during the day, usually from late May onwards. But for Easter, it was perfect, especially for racing around the garden to hunt for Easter eggs :-)
      HaHa! Well, methinks it was probably big brother but somehow little sister ended up with the most. Funny how that happens… ;-)
      I’ll tell him that, it is very 90s isn’t it?
      Glad this post smiled it’s warmth on you, thanks for that. It’s actually been nice and sunny here today, hope with you too :-)

      • Steven says:

        Hmm, somehow I was right, how did I know that she would end up with all the eggs?

        Yes! It has been nice today. 17 degrees at one stage. Pretty comfortable – when we start climbing above the twenties is when I start melting!

      • Sherri says:

        Well, you were spot on JG!! Little sisters have a way about them don’t they??? ;-)

        That’s good, sunny here today too (now replying on Thursday!) You wouldn’t like the California heat when it really gets going. Although the air conditioning helps greatly… :-)

      • Steven says:

        Haha! Funny, that! They do indeed seem to get their own way quite often. ;)

        It’s been nice here for a few days now. No, I probably wouldn’t take to the heat all that well! It’s a shock to the system to think of a clime where it’s too hot to even think of going outdoors. I’d rather go somewhere like Finland, Norway, Canada, perhaps… where it’s nice and nippy! ;)

      • Sherri says:

        Nice and nippy! Love it :-)

  22. Amy says:

    Your precious family photo bring me smiles… Thank you so much for sharing it with us, Sherri! Great take on :)

  23. lilkaraphael says:

    I loved that. It’s great how you cant take that time in your life and equate it to a threshold. Those memories go by fast and I’m glad you shared that one with us. I can’t wait to hear about the neighbor. Sounds like your time in California was more than adventurous! :)

    • Sherri says:

      It’s funny how I get to thinking about the challenge a few days before and um and ah and then the light bulb goes off and I know just which photo to use and the rest centers around that.
      Thank you Lilka and yes, time sure does fly, too fast sometimes! I can’t believe that this photo is not far off 20 years old!!!! How the heck did that happen?
      As for the neighbour, well, it was not a good time but as I said, I will be writing about it shortly.
      Our time in California certainly had more than its fair share of adventures but I’m very thankful that we were blessed with good ones for the most part :-)

  24. jennypellett says:

    Lovely pic of your chicks . What an amazing life you have had Sherri – neighbours shooting at you! Can’t wait to hear about that story sometime.

    • Sherri says:

      Thanks Jenny, I’m glad I get to share these pics here, especially this one as one of my all-time faves!!
      Ha! Yes, all true. Think I better get on with writing about it judging by the response to my mention of a certain little bedtime story!!!
      Glad you’re up and running again Jenny and hopefully having a less stressful week :-)

  25. tieshka says:

    Fun picture Sherri…. My daughter is such a girly-girl.. glad you had that brief period of time to dress her up- with your own creations at that! We are looking forward to having the kids participate in their 1st underwater Easter egg hunt this year and I’ve scoped out churches in Pismo Beach for Easter mass.. can’t wait to get away………. :)

    • Sherri says:

      Hi Tieshka! Thank you, yes, I did enjoy making my daughter her little dresses and so glad I got that out of my system, lol!
      Wow, underwater? That sounds amazing! How lovely to spend it at Pismo. Hope you all have a great time!
      I love Easter. We often went away too but this year I have my eldest coming home so I get to hear all about his trip to CA and can’t wait!! :-)

  26. thirdhandart says:

    A beautiful photo Sherri! It sure fits the challenge well. Aspie D’s Easter dress is adorable… great job of sewing. If I remember correctly, sewing pieces of gathered fabric together isn’t easy.
    You have so many interesting stories to tell… can’t wait to hear the one about your crazed neighbor!

    • Sherri says:

      Thanks so much Theresa, I’m happy to have been able to share this favourite photo of mine with you. Haha! Yes, I did enjoy sewing but with a pattern it isn’t so bad. Making small dresses like these is better than full size but yes, gathered fabric can be a hassle, I agree. Many times it’s unravelled on me…!
      And as for the crazed neighbour, I will have to write it up sooner rather than later judging by everyone’s eagerness to read all about it. It’s not pretty, he was a nasty piece of work but you’ll see what I mean. Sorry for the suspense though…hope things are going well for you this week, now that spring is well underway :-)

  27. susancarey says:

    Wonderful photo, and your daughter looks adorable in that dress. I remember having an easter bonnet for a ballet performance when I was your daughter’s age. It was a plastic lace doily with flowers sewn on it! The doily came from Woolies I expect.

    • Sherri says:

      Ahh, thanks Susan, so glad you enjoyed this photo, one of my faves!! I loved seeing my daughter in her little dresses!
      Yes, I remember having a bonnet too, once, and I loved the ribbon around it! What a lovely memory for you. How ever would we have managed without wonderful Woolies :-)

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  30. restlessjo says:

    How very different from the little story you just shared, Sherri. This one full of warmth and laughter. What a happy family life you have shaped. A truly lovely memory. (and chocolate!) :)

    • Sherri says:

      Hi Jo. Yes, this is the one to bring joy and laughter.
      This happy family memory lives in my heart and keeps me going when things aren’t going so well – reminds of all that is good and right :-)

  31. I’d title this precious picture as “All Dressed Up And No Way To Be Solemn”–what a wonderful ‘capture’ of all three of them!
    I loved to sew, too, Sherri, and until Molly was in 3rd grade, each Easter I not only made her a dress…I also made a matching one for me. The same material, but different style. She loved it (and learned how to pick out fabric and patterns and sew on buttons) until she was about 9. Then she was aghast that we’d wear Mother-Daughter dresses.
    Frankly, I was kind of glad we stopped it, too…

    • Sherri says:

      Haha! I love your slogans Marylin and yes, this one would be perfect!
      Ahh, you know, I made a matching dress for myself once or twice too! I love that you did that, isn’t it so wonderful to have that experience? But that’s the thing, it is short lived!
      My daughter was about the same age as your Molly (I adore that name btw) when it all came to an abrupt end (aghast, yes, that would be the word!) but as you say, and I would agree, probably just as well…ha ;-)
      Thank you for sharing your delightful story as always Marylin, I love to read them. :-)

  32. That is a great photo – makes you happy just to look at it and what a dress! I do remember always getting new clothes for Easter. We weren’t churchgoers, but we’d go to town to watch the ‘marching’ where the kids from the local churches would parade around, then a cup of tea and a hot cross bun at the local café – traditions long gone now.

    • Sherri says:

      Thank you Andrea! Yes, this photo makes me smile just thinking about it! We weren’t churchgoers growing up but I did take my own children to Sunday school in their younger years until they no longer had much desire to go.
      Your early Easter memories are lovely. Things are very different now aren’t they? For one thing, no sooner is Christmas over then the shops are filled with hot cross buns!! Have a good week Andrea :-)

  33. Really cute and upbeat picture. I totally understand you treasure that one.
    And I totally recognize your part about wanting to put your daughter in dresses while you still can. ;)

    • Sherri says:

      Ahh, thanks so much Mirjam for reading this, and really glad you enjoyed it. Yes, I certainly made as many dresses as I could while I had the chance :-)

      • That makes you smart, not awful ;) A mother also need to take oppertunities while they’re still there. When girls grow up, they create their own taste and dresses might not be part of the wardrobe anymore. At a certain age range, they were prohibited from my closet as well. :) They got back in later, though.

    • Sherri says:

      Thank you Mirjam and yes, that is so very true! Like you, my daughter didn’t touch dresses for many years but wears them now. She also wore only black. When she was 13 I remarried and she was my one and only bridesmaid. When I told her at first that I would like her to wear a dress she told me only if it was a black one! I was actually okay with it but not long before the wedding she stunned me when she found a dusky rose coloured dress and breezily told me she would like to wear it. I couldn’t believe it. She looked at me and said, “What? I like dresses now!” as if I should have known all along! I’ll never forget that moment :-)

  34. Wow! Such a wonderful photo of your beautiful and fun loving children. Much as i remember them!! what a treasure Sherri. xoxo

    • Sherri says:

      You will remember this oh so well my friend! I love this photo so much, reminds me all that good, happy times and the laughter and joy shared, of which you were such a huge part, and still are! I’m so glad you got to read it and enjoyed it! xoxox

  35. This photo is so adorable, Sherri! Your children are so fortunate to have you for a mom! Or “mum” as you say over there on the other side of the world! :) That’s a great Easter story. You have inspired me to write about the night before Easter in 2006 when my mom passed away. I haven’t been able to do it, but I’m going to try. Thank you for sharing your gifts of writing and photography with the world.

    • Sherri says:

      Hi Patsy, so sorry it’s taken me so long to reply to your lovely comment, I seem to have been missing some notifications from several readers but think it’s resolved now so at last catching up!! Always something, eh??
      Thank you so much Patsy, so glad you enjoyed this post and yes, I adore this photo. It brings back so many of the good, precious memories of what really mattered and still matters every single day…the love for and of my children…
      Oh goodness, I’m truly honoured and humbled that you are inspired to write about your mom’s passing, how incredibly painful that must have been. Writing about it will bring about a huge blessing and healing for you my friend. My prayers and big hugs are with you as you go through the process… God bless you…xo

      • You’re welcome! Hey, I responded to your last e-mail, but for some reason it doesn’t say I did. So I’m not sure where we are there? ;-)
        Anyway, I haven’t started on writing about my mom yet. I’ve been working on drawing a hummingbird for Jill W. instead. But I’ve also been doing other writing. And my friend’s having the memorial service for her husband this Friday who passed away from liver cancer a couple of weeks ago. That’s going to be tough for all of us.
        God bless you, too, Sherri. Big hugs to you!

      • Sherri says:

        Hi Patsy, yes, I did get your lovely email, thank you, sorry I’m just being slow to respond and ‘catch up’ as I seem to be doing so much lately, but I will very shortly :-)
        Oh yes, your hummingbird drawing, I can’t wait to see it, I too adore them and was always so fascinated when they came up to my feeder outside my kitchen window when I lived in the States.We don’t get them in the UK so they were a beautiful novelty for me and I know how special they are to Jill, she will be so thrilled :-)
        I’m so sorry about your friend’s husband, my prayers will be with you on Friday…
        Hope your week is going well, blessings and hugs and keep writing (and drawing and painting and….. !!) :-)

      • That’s okay, Sherri. I was just wondering if it failed to get to you. No hurries. I know how busy you are!
        I have loved hummingbirds since we moved here. I never saw them in the city when we lived there 15 years ago. They are beautiful creatures indeed!
        Thank you for your prayers on Friday for Jackie and her family. I appreciate that so much!
        My week is going great! Lots to do all the time. :)
        Have a great day!

      • Sherri says:

        Great…you too Patsy, God bless… :-)

      • God bless you, too, Sherri. :)

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