Thursday, April 24, 2014

Orange County Family History Fair

I had a great time speaking at the Orange County Family History Conference last weekend. I had heard about this conference many times and knew the Family History Center had a great program there in Orange County.  So when they asked if I would come and give the keynote address Saturday morning it was an offer I couldn't refuse.  I was excited to head down and check it out for myself. 

Richard and Kathy McFarlane took such good care of me on the quick trip down there and back.  It was such a joy to get to know them and have time to chat with them over dinner.  They have a beautiful family and such a love for family history.  They have combined their love for their family's history and Kathy's background in Art history to create a beautiful home.  The centerpiece of their home are two magnificent reproductions of two ancestors that are particularly inspirational to them.  They were beautiful paintings that really set the tone in their home and I'm sure inspire their children and grandchildren.  What a great example they are of creating a strong family by sharing that family narrative that strengthens the current relationships.

Of course, when we arrived at the center, I was immediately drawn to the "Family Trees" display at the entrance to the center.  They had some nice representations of families but they had one item that particularly interested me.  I had never seen anything like it before.  It was the cross section of a tree that had been planted when a couple were married.  When the tree was cut down, someone when through and showed in the rings of the tree the family's progression, the marriages, the births and so on.  It was awesome.  It made me wish we had planted a tree when we had gotten married.  What a fantastic representation of the growth of a family.   


Another display showed a tree created by a beautiful 8 year old girl. No wonder they were so proud of her and displayed it in the family history center.  I knew when I saw it that in this center were people who shared my passion for involving youth with their family history.  You could tell this girl had caught the bug.  So going in, I knew that my sessions about how to involve your family would be well used in this conference. 

I gave my "Grandma's Bullet Proof Vest" lecture for the keynote as well as three others.  I think it went really well and Dick said the reviews were good.  I had reworked it quite a bit and added several points at the end about the principles I've learned over these past years in working with my children and writing my Zap The Grandma Gap books.  I think it got them thinking about making family history more of a family activity.  I hope they will.  That lecture clearly explains the benefits family history brings into your modern relationships and the strength it gives youth to know about their family's past.  Hopefully I was able to contribute more of that stability to the families in Orange County.  I sure had fun doing it. 


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Giving Back. 5% to for Mother's Day Orders

We've been doing alot of planning and evaluating here at Family ChartMasters and I'm really excited to tell you about a new program we are going to put into place. 

Mother's Day is often a big time for family history projects.  Family History is the perfect gift for Mother's Day because family is what Mothers sacrifice, love and live for.  Our charts have been the perfect gift for mothers and grandmothers all over the world.  And we love to help our clients create beautiful expressions of their love for their families. 

This Mother's day we've concocted a plan to make the holiday even sweeter for all of us.  For every order that comes through our Free Consultation page at www.familychartmasters.com/upload between now and Mother's Day, we are going to donate 5% of the order to the Center for Women and Children in Crisis.  The center provides a safe place for mothers and their children to find food shelter and support when their family situation is detrimental to their well being.  We want to help strengthen and heal families, and we are reaching out to find more ways to do that.  Will you help us?  This offer makes it a great time to get those family reunion chart orders in for the summer too. Let us know what we can do to help you celebrate your family and strengthen others at the same time.  Feel free to give us a call at 801-87CHART with any questions.  We're looking forward to making it a great Mother's Day for everyone.


Thursday, February 27, 2014

Of Being Important

This week I was mentioned in an article by Family Tree Magazine as one of the "40 Social Media Mavericks" that new people should get to know.  I don't usually get mentioned in things like that because I don't have time to be on social media full time.  In the family history community there are a lot of hobbyists who are retired, or stay at home moms who become the most prolific, go-to, stay-on-top-of-every-news-item people.  And there are the people for whom genealogy news *is* their business.  Those are usually the Mavericks who get mentioned.  I try to get my message out there over our various social media channels, but I'm also trying to do other things in the genealogy space--run a chart printing company and write books.  And that creates what sometimes feels like a vicious circle.  I've felt really stuck that I can't get the message out about what I am doing effectively and still do the job effectively. I think that is true of alot of small companies.  So thank you to Lisa Louise Cooke as well as Alison Dolan and Diane Haddad, the editor and publisher of Family Tree Magazine.  I really appreciated your acknowledgement of what we do when so many days are hard work and the normal uphill battle life gives us. And I know the other people caught in the wide net you tried to cast were appreciative too.

It made me stop and think about how we are all seeking acceptance in this world.  Even more so now that we are all looking for a few more +1s, comments, or likes.  In some ways I think social media has made us all 13 year olds again, looking for that acceptance from our peers and basing our self worth entirely too much on what other people think of us.  I happened to catch a few minutes of an interview last week--I think I was in the Dr's office, sorry I can't cite where-- and Oprah was being interviewed talking about loneliness and being validated by other people.  She said the most brilliant thing.  She said of all the interviews she's done over the years--politicians, movie stars etc, almost everyone would lean over after the interview and say "Was that ok?  Did I do ok?"  I found that to be astounding.  EVERYONE is looking for validation in this world.  And EVERYONE deserves to be validated.

I saw a wonderful TED talk this week about how to make those connections.  It has made me think. You need to watch it.



There are lots of lists.  Like everyone else, I worry about what lectures of mine are accepted, what events I'm invited to, who mentions me in an article, and how many people are on my social networks and who opens my newsletters and how many people come to my websites.  If you are a hot shot in all those areas now, just wait, you won't be in the future. Life moves that way.

AND THAT'S WHAT MAKES FAMILY and FAMILY HISTORY SO IMPORTANT.
Those are where the most important and long lasting connections are.  Everyone deserves to be validated but the world doesn't have the time or focus to validate anyone for very long.  But, if you don't have a grandmother or a mother who thought you were wonderful, I hope you have a spouse or a child, a sister, a brother, a niece, a nephew, or a grandchild.  Those are the connections that last.  That is where the long lasting acceptance is--probably because they are stuck with you and most people work to make those relationships good over the long haul.  In college I remember hearing about a parable (again--no chapter and verse--this is the blog post of missing footnotes).  It was about a dragon slayer who went to work every day to slay dragons out in the world, but came home to their family every night.  The family bound up the dragon slayer's wounds and healed them for the next day's battle.  Those family relationships, those treasured family stories that give us self esteem, those are the places we find those healing balms.  I think those are the real places that we should be worried about who we are and what people think about us.

On Twitter this week I mentioned that I've been working on ferreting out the fears that hold me back.  Like everyone, I fear not being accepted, and I also fear social networking taking up all my time.  I am so so thankful for this recognition.  It has made my load much lighter.  But I'm also going to make sure I spend enough time with my family today.  I love you all.  I LOVE this genealogy community.  It has been a blessing in my life to have so many wonderful friends here.  But my real worth lies at home.  And so does yours.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

I've recovered from RootsTech--finally.

2014 Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved
Reprinted from my post on the Visit Salt Lake Blog:

It has taken me three weeks to recover.  What a party.  If you missed it, you'll want to catch the video archive and mark your calendars for next year.  RootsTech has become the biggest family history conference in the world.

2014 Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved
Over the past 10 years, I have traveled with my company, Family ChartMasters, to conferences across North America and Europe.  To date, the largest family history conference has been Who Do You Think You Are Live in London, England.  But this year, with the online streaming attendees, and record registrations, Salt Lake City was the host for what has become the largest Family History event in the world.   RootsTech was held at the Salt Palace and was sponsored by FamilySearch.  Attendees traveled from 49 states (if you are in South Dakota you need to come next year) and 32 countries.

2014 Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved
Speakers presented workshops on a wide range of family history topics including social networking and archiving photos, DNA and storytelling and etc, and etc,.  The presentations included a wide range of beginner to more advanced topics.  Computer labs gave attendees hands on experience with the latest technologies.  And the keynote presentations each morning came from a wide range of popular presenters.  My favorite lecture was the keynote Friday with Judy Russell.  She is a crowd-pleasing genealogy speaker who talked about how quickly family history information is lost and how important it is to effectively pass it down.  Follow the link to listen to her inspiring presentation. 

2014 Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved
On top of the great classes, the vendor's hall was the biggest I've ever seen--and so much fun.  With a demo theater, free giveaways and lots of hands on exhibits, you could spend the whole day in the vendors hall and learn enough to keep you busy throughout the next year.  Experts from genealogy companies around the world were on hand to solve your family history problems and help you learn more about your ancestors.

RootsTech continues to grow and improve each year and I'm sure next year will be even better.  Mark your calendars for February 12-14th 2015 and plan to join us and have lots of fun learning about who you are and where you came from.  You'll be able to register this fall at rootstech.org.  I'll see you there.

Thanks to Paul Nauta at FamilySearch for the great pictures.  I was so busy I only got a few.  It was such a whirlwind I was only able to post to facebook a little.  It was so fun to see everyone and we never get enough time to talk during the short three days.  But it is so much excitement packed into such a short amount of time I don't know that I could do it for much longer.  For more info on my lecture and my son's lecture see my post over on my Zap The Grandma Gap Blog. We had a great time.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

RootsTech Preparations

So the biggest conference we've ever experienced in North America is coming next week and we are SO excited.  The registrations for RootsTech are looking really good and we are getting prepared.  We've been working on a new booth and special offers and freebies.  My 15 year old son is speaking and my lecture and demos are all ready.  Can't wait.

Here's a sneak peek at some of the charts we've been putting together to show off our expertise in printing.
The Teenager Chart

A Family Masterpiece

A Fan for Blended Families
Extra stories and information

There is no longer standing company that has more experience and expertise in displaying your family history than we do.  No matter what you are dreaming up, we are the only company that can create any style of chart and print it for you at an amazing price.  Send your ideas in for a free consultation and we'll look forward to seeing you at the conference.


Upcoming lectures and events

We're geared up with the new booth and ready to go. Here's what we have so far.  Looking forward to seeing you there: 
  • Rootstech February 6-8th. "Zap the Grandma Gap: Leave a Heritage Workshop." “Abracadabra: Design Your Own Family History Chart Demo,” “Presto Chango: Turn Your Family History Into A Coloring Book Demo,” “Get To Know Your Geezers (for Youth)” with my son Matthew Hovorka 
  • Eastern Idaho Family History Conference March 15th. “Creating a Culture of Family History in Your Family and Your Home.” “Where to Start When Your Genealogy is all “Done” and “Playground Rules for Genealogy on the Internet.” 
  • Orange County Family History Fair April 19th Keynote: “Grandma’s Bullet Proof Vest: Why Your Children Need You To Do Family History,” “Mom & Pop Culture: Creating a Culture of Family History in Your Family & in the Home,” “Grandpa’s on My iPad: Sharing Your Family History Using Social Networking,” “Where to Start When Your Family History Is All ‘Done’”
  • Southern California Genealogy Society Jamboree June 6th to 8th “Back to Basic Research Practices in the Age of Internet Genealogy,” Panel Moderator for “Rebranding Genealogy and Engaging the Next Generation,” “Abracadabra: Interactive Family History Charts With Prezi.”
Attending as a vendor but not speaking (doing some more writing so I haven't submitted as many proposals this year)
  • Utah Genealogical Association Spring Conference April 25th and 26th
  • National Genealogical Society Conference May 6th to 11th
  • Brigham Young University Family History Conference July 29th to Aug 1st.
Others in our company will also be attending
  • Genealogy Now Expo March 14th and 15th.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Some Thoughts on Advanced Methodology

It has been a whirlwind January.  So much fun.  I got to take a week and go to the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy.  So many good friends there and so much to enjoy.  And then the very next day we took off to California for a week with my whole family to celebrate my parent's return from a 2 1/2 year mission abroad.  So much partying.  So much fun.  Thank you to Kim and Lara and Erin and everybody for letting me go. 

While I was at SLIG, I had the opportunity to attend Dr. Thomas Jones' Advanced Methodology Class.  This is such a well respected class, it fills every year within 5 minutes of when registration opens.  I had heard great things about this class, but I was more influenced by my previous interactions with Dr. Jones and some of the research stories that had been floating around SLIG.  Dr. Jones was always completely kind and respectful to me as UGA president in dealing with contracts and planning and such.  And as we developed the Advanced Practicum course, I loved hearing about the stories of how he and others had traced people who had moved, and remarried and changed their names throughout their lives by reading the nuances in the records.  I was looking forward to learning how to dance around the brick walls that other people have and how it was more about what you see in the records than what records you find.

I was not disappointed.  Alot of family history puzzles are solved not by your knowledge of the sources but rather the methodology of your research.  When I became involved in genealogy, I was frustrated with how often people took everything at face value, without an exhaustive search and without drilling down to original sources.  I'm totally a footnote nerd.  And I found my people here. 

I am proud to say my Master's degree in Library and Information Science held up well.  I was pleased
with that because I had heard horror stories about how demanding the class was and how hard the homework was.  I can't really say I learned too much, but it was really fun to hear about the stories of well researched problems.  Stories like how tracing an immigrant family's neighbors and the birthplaces of their children helped show exactly when this group of families had immigrated from Ireland, through Quebec and into New York and Indiana together and helped find the place of birth for the immigrant.  Or how lining up the tax, church, property, and vital information about a person can show that one person is really two people because of inconsistencies.  So so cool.  SLIG was the perfect mix of staying out too late with your friends, and then being surprised to be wide awake in a class about Federal Land records after lunch the next day.  I ate up every moment of class.

Like I posted on facebook, I found I was a bi-polar genealogist.  I LOVE the exacting details in Dr Thomas Jones advanced methodology class at SLIG. But I also love making it easy and attracting beginners to the joy of family history.

The biggest revelation that I had came at the very end of class.  Tom suggested that we need to make time to do our own research as part of our work.  He said that university professors have their own pet research projects--that's where they gain the materials for publishing and for their teaching.  I come from a long line of university professors so that resonated with me.  I had decided this year to work on more of my own family history instead of only working on everyone else's.  And I've been able to do alot of my own work of my own while I've been experimenting with my kids and writing my Zap The Grandma Gap books.  But other than that it always seemed a little self indulgent to work on my own research.  Now I can see that that is crucial to my development as a genealogy professional and as a speaker so that I don't stagnate.  If I had gotten nothing else out of the class, it would have been worth it for that one reason.  I now feel like I have permission to work on my own research as part of my professional development.  I'm so excited about that.

I highly recommend the class.  If you can get in.  Registration for next year starts June 7th at SLIG.UGAGENALOGY.ORG 

YOU CAN NEVER TRUST A SOURCE IN ISOLATION  --  Thomas Jones

Saturday, December 14, 2013

One Of My Favorite Family Christmas Traditions

One of my favorite traditional family foods for Christmas is English Trifle.  My family always has Trifle on Christmas Eve.  It honors our British ancestors.  It was also my Grandpa Dana's favorite.  My sister Amy isn't going to be able to be home for Christmas this year (she'll be reuniting with her husband who has been deployed for the last 6 months Yea!) so when we got together last week I made Trifle for dessert in her honor.

I actually made it a little bigger and created it in a punch bowl this year since we have so many teenage boys in the family.  Trifle bowls make them look beautiful too though.  We've made other Trifle recipies at times, but our traditional one is still my favorite. I thought I'd share it with you here:


Carpenter Trifle

10 ounces frozen raspberries
3 ounce raspberry jello
Dissolve in 1 1/2 cup boiling water and let jell in the fridge.

10 ounces frozen strawberries
3 ounce strawberry jello
Dissolve in 1/12 cup boiling water and let jell in the fridge.

2 3 ounce packages tapioca
Make according to package and cool.

2 to 4 cups vanilla ice cream
2 sliced bananas
1/2 large angel food cake broken into bite sized pieces
1/2 cup broken pecans
whipping cream

Layer jello, angel food, jello, icecream, bananas, more jello, tapioca, jello on top.  Serve topped with whipping cream and sprinkle with pecans. 


On my first Christmas away from home I was invited to celebrate with some friends who served a very similar Trifle for desert.  It was a Christmas miracle to me that year--like a love note from home.  Even though I wasn't home, Christmas was OK because I still felt connected and secure.