Friday, August 4, 2017

Family Reunions.: Some Ideas...

I could probably say that the first 5 summer (if not more) of my childhood were spent at reunions. Mainly for one side of the family, as they were (and still are) diligent about it! Even though I don't remember them, maybe blips here and there, my parents were smart and took pictures as the baby was passed around or just of the kids playing on the playground at the local park with other 2nd cousins, or whatever the name for them was. Usually planned in advance to accommodate work and school schedules, it's always a challenge to meet all of them, but you do what you can in hopes that if they can't make it this time around, hopefully the next will be more successful.

1991 Gold Reunion (5 DAYS OLD!)

1992 Gold Reunion with my mom

1992 Gold Reunion with "Aunt" Vernice

1993 Gold Reunion sitting on my dad's lap

Most of the time when we think of a family reunion (or maybe in our teenage years), we think of old people sitting around and telling stories. Or to most kids -- doing the "boring things" -- like talking. While that *can* be true, I have a few ideas and some that haven been proven to be helpful that I'll share:

- Camping: This of course comes at the top of my list as it's one of my favorite things to do in summer. This isn't just camping either -- this includes sight seeing (depending on where you are), hikes (suitable for all age groups) -- the WHOLE ENCHILADA! At night tell stories around the picnic table while you play your family's favorite card game. Or if you're so inclined, roast s'mores and tell stories around a campfire. Just watch the kids closely!

2004 SC Gold Reunion - Yellowstone

2004 SC Gold Reunion - Yellowstone @ Fishing Bridge
- Meet at a local park: There's lots of opportunity here. Especially if you can rent a pavilion a head of time that way you can have shaded areas for sitting and you have the whole rest of the park to make chat circles, play different yard games (ie, Kite Flying, Croquet, Ultimate Frisbee, etc) We did this with a family reunion and a would-be-100th birthday celebration for my Great Grandmother. Now here is where kiddo involvement comes into play.

A) Cover the tables with paper, put crayons and other drawing utensils around and give the kids themes to work with to illustrate such as their family events that have happened (or are happening),  Play an ongoing tic tac toe game, or just let them scribble to their heart's content. The possibilities are endless!

B) At the last reunion we were able to make, each family was given a "science fair poster board" -- you know the tri-fold boards. Each family had to, in their own creative way, illustrate each sub family and write the notable things. Some families got creative, some just wrote and it was a lot of fun to read and look at around lunch time since most of the families at the reunion now are very spread apart across the continental United States.

Here was our extended family example and yet, SO much has changed since!

The last idea can be a toss up for older kids, depending on your families age demographics for kids. 

C) Do a fun interactive family timeline. My mom put one together starting with events from my great grandparent's lives until present (2015). It was fun for me to add in my birthday and my husband and I's wedding and other events that were important to us. The rest of the extended family did the same and it was a pretty full board by the time we were done.



D)  I think another fun thing to do maybe for the younger kids (ages 4 and up, maybe?) would be to write memories of grandparents or great grandparents if they are still alive. Whether you give them card stock paper and turn it into a special book, let them color on the table and take great photos of them, etc. Just something I had thought of...

The best part about family reunions is that they are all unique and very individual. What works for my extended family may not work for yours and that's ok! It's always fun to share ideas to help give others a boos into maybe planning their own in the future. It takes a lot of work (and that is a HUGE understatement!) We appreciate everyone who takes the time, and energy into planning them!

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Food Memories: Why are they important?

As families, we get together at big holidays. It's an unwritten rule it seems. But with all the family, fun and laughter, something seems to be the center of it all: FOOD.

Have you ever wondered why that was? It's an interesting phenomena in and of itself, but as we all have to eat, why not do it with those you love.



Above if a "Recipe Story" that was told by the CEO/President of FamilySearch Steve Rockwood about his Grandmother's Rocky Road Fudge. 

Simple traditions can make the biggest impact. 

What are some of YOUR recipe stories? In the coming weeks, if you send them to me, you could be featured on our blog. We LOVE food here at The Family History Mom. Share with us! 

Monday, July 10, 2017

Family History: Brought to Life on the Road

Since we're more than half way into summer, vacations are en route and so this month we're chatting about family history vacations, or in my case "family history stops".

I won't have a lot to offer as a family of four years and a one-year old, so my experiences will come from growing up and then maybe a few ideas that I had that maybe would work for you.

Growing up, my family loved doing road trips. More economical for a family of seven, not to mention you get to see more of the sights along the way, rather than if you were in the air.

A lot of our trips meant going up through Utah. If you've ever lived or been to Utah, there are cemeteries everywhere -- even to the point that they are classified as "Historical". Yes, Salt Lake City, I'm talking to you. Anyways, as a kid, I always found it super boring to get out of the car to basically do a scavenger hunt for the relative's stone that we hadn't gotten a picture of yet. (Especially when I was looking forward to making it to the destination of Yellowstone National Park.) But now that I live within 50 miles of the Greater SLC area, it's nice as I pretty much know where to go now. So, that's one thing that our family did growing up.



Another thing was my parents took a trip north east (Pennsylvania) when we were younger -- I'm pretty sure it was connected to a reunion, but visiting all the homes, places of work, worship and more.  That is something I would love to do with our kids one day, but first I would have to prioritize and figure out where we would want to go first. To me, that's always the hard part -- deciding the point of interest and then where to go from there.


So as I thought about how I could use this and accommodate a growing family, here are some of the ideas I came up with on how to involve kids before a big trip, or involving them in the planning:

- Lay out a few possible places that are of interest, show home videos, pictures or any other visual aid to help kids understand where they could go

- Learn about the family members before going. What was daily life like? What did they do for a living? Maybe compare a map from when they lived there to a modern-day map and see what might have changed. (Who knows, maybe their house is now a gas station?)

- Encourage the kids to take pictures on the trip. And you be sure to take some too! What kids take pictures of is just another neat perspective on the trip and will be fun to look back on later.

- Be sure to take pictures of historic buildings, places of work and even houses if possible. Anything to connect you and your kids to the past.

- Once home, create your own map using pictures that you took of your trip and discoveries.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Book Review: "Me And My Family Tree"

So, here I am today doing another book review as I haven't had much regarding suggestions on what people would like to hear/see from me.

Today's kid's book is: "Me and My Family Tree". Written by Joan Sweeney and illustrated by Annette Cable.



Another family history friend pointed this book out to me and I was anxious for it to arrive in the mail once I ordered it online. This is a book you can buy one per kid, or one per family. I'll explain why here in just a minute.

As you read (or your kids) they learn about the narrator's family - who happens to be a young girl on a journey piecing together an extended three generation tree. (By extended, I mean including the aunts and uncles.) Small stories and connections are made about each family member along the way.


The journey continues all the way down the tree until we finally reach "No. 1 on the chart" (Pardon my pedigree chart humor).


Here comes the could-be-frustrating part I warned you about...


This book has FILL INS!  Now as a parent of only one child currently, I can easily see myself filling this in for her to have a fun book later to look back on. A parent of 2+ may cringe and wonder how to do it. There's options. (A) Buy a few more books (B) photocopy that one page.

Personally, I would go for (A), that way each child has their own special book with their family tree in it.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Organizing Digital Files (Part 1): Getting Started

In the digital world, we collect so many things on our desktops that all of a sudden we have more clutter on our hard drives than we know what to do with, Some think it may be easier if it was a pile of books, photos and boxes. And I'm sure plenty more would argue that they wouldn't want that either.

In any case, for me, since I was in college and didn't have the space to keep physical items, so those all stayed at my parent's house and I had a lot of digital copies of things and pictures of family items. So here are a few ways that I've found to sort my "digital collection" and then I'll share a video/podcast from my friend Amy Johnson Crow where she interviews an author on the subject! (The more resources the better, I say!)

- Organize by Surname: Organizing the files by last name seem to be most helpful for me so when I decide to work on a single line, I can go directly to that folder and look through the documents, photos and such at that moment.

- Name things easily. That may sound weird, but you know yourself better than anyone. Think of what you may search your computer for that would easily come to mind. For example, it may be easiest to title obituaries like so "JohnDoe_Obit" if you know that may be how you'd search. Keeping it short may be helpful as well.

- Look at the files that you have. Looking at what files you have will help determine the sub-folders. Some family names won't have some of the same things that others do. How you seperate family files may be different as well; whether you do it by year, document type, by child, the possibilities are endless.

- Sometimes you may have to start over. For me, that is my huge task that I keep avoiding like the plague because it's haunting me. Bad. I have one surname that I've gotten a lot of files, documents, and pictures for and it's out of control. I'm hoping to take some simple ideas from Drew (podcast below) to find my way to "re-booting" again. Hence why this is only PART ONE.

 

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Book Review: "This is Me"

I've been meaning to get on here all week and here it is Thursday evening - yikes! Such is the life of a mom when nothing really goes to plan. I digress. This week's book review is a new family favorite that we got recently titled, "This is Me".  (Rather similar in title to the popular TV show, "This is Us" - which is also a must see...)


Written by actress Jamie Lee Curtis (you may recognize her as the mom in the re-make of Freaky Friday along side Lindsey Lohan...) and illustrated by Laura Cornell, this book takes you on a fun adventure of  not only learning about your ancestors; but putting yourself in their shoes,

You're coming across the ocean with your family to a new place and everything you bring has to fit in a single suitcase so the question is raised, what would you bring and why. It goes through what certain people might have put in their suitcase and then lets you think about what you would bring in yours to represent YOU. (Hence the title - "This is Me")  The book even features a cute little pop-up suitcase at the end of the book to bring the scenario to life for your kids.

I think it's an appropriate book for kids and adults of all ages. Younger kids may get the thrill of the pop-up suitcase, while older kids and adults may like to think about what they would bring if they had to travel to a new place to call it home.

This duo writes many other books dealing with children into adopted families, pets and much more. I would give this book a try and then see if you like any of their other books in their line. This one seems to be the least specific to any background.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Getting Started on Your Family History Puzzle

Imagine I have given you a puzzle with no picture of what it's supposed to look like. You have no idea if I've give you all the pieces, if some are from an other puzzle, or just what the situation is. 

This is very true and similar of starting the process of family history work. You may have gotten in to it with family members collecting items along the way. You may be the first to touch it as far as you know. Wherever you are on the journey of family history, you are not alone and trust me and any other family historian -- no one is done with their puzzle. That's the fun, it's never over and there's always something new and interesting to discover! 


When you first begin to work on your family history puzzle, start with the closest and most familiar pieces: individuals in and information about your own immediate family. You will be doing something that literally millions of people around the world enjoy doing. 

Here are a few tips that I've found pretty helpful so far: 

1. Assess where you are. This means running through your brain to see what you already know, whether it is in your head or on paper. Some people go line by line. If you don't know that much about many of the lines you or your children come through, focus on one. Nothing gets more confusing when you start working on so many lines at once and then you start to mix them up -- especially if they lived in the same state or area!Your starting point in doing family history work will depend upon your experience and your available family history information thus far. Assess where you are now in your research, and then decide where you want to go next. Move from the most readily available sources to the more difficult ones. 

2. Start by doing the simple (and sometimes mundane) things.  Write down what you already know about your family. You will need to write down the names of parents and their parents with the dates of birth or death or marriage. When you can, you will want to record the places. Some of that you will know from memory. But you can also ask relatives. They may even have some certificates of births, marriages, or deaths. Make copies or scan and organize them. (We'll talk more about different organization techniques that may or may not work for you. 

3. Carry on!  Keep repeating the above two steps until you feel you are ready to dig a little deeper into specialized records, or start to ask more in depth questions to relatives that are still living. Just keep in mind that family history is not the simple 6-9 piece puzzle. It has thousands -- millions -- of pieces and they are waiting to be discovered and linked together by you!