Wednesday, June 24, 2015

How much can you fit in a month?

I was gone 22 out of 33 days recently, and my oldest son graduated from High School in the 10 days I was home. (You can see why I haven't gotten much blogging done.)  Too much fun.  Here's the update:
First I got to go to the National Genealogical Association Conference in St. Charles Missouri.  It was a great venue and of course lots of good people to talk to.  We did our Outside the Box sessions in the vendors hall and I got to talk to lots of people about charts they wanted to create for their family reunions this summer.  It was a quick trip but very productive.

 Then I was home to mark some major passages in our current family.  My oldest graduating from High School and my youngest graduation from Jr. High.  I can't believe how fast a family grows up.  Time marches on.  Even though I'm a genealogist, I try not to think about that too much.  :)
And then we took off on an actual family vacation of our own.  Thanks to these wonderful ladies we were actually able to really get away.  Erin, Christine and Wendy took wonderful care of our clients while we were gone.  That takes alot of trust.  I'm so thankful for these ladies.  We are so blessed to have them. 
And where did we go?  Family History sites of course.  We started at Niagara Falls and worked our way around the great lakes region, down into Illinois and up to Wisconsin where Kim grew up. 
We got to see several sites where my ancestors lived and worked in New York and Ohio. 
This is me in front of a house one of my ancestors built in 1843.  There was actually a store in the part of the home on the left side of the picture.  My mother's ancestor who built the home was in business with one of my father's ancestors here.  How cool is that?
I actually caught a good smile in a selfie with another ancestor's home. The teenagers had fun, but they did there best to make sure I didn't capture any proof of it.  Here I outwitted him :)
And then we took the kids to see where my husband Kim grew up in Wisconsin.  None of them had been there since they were babies, so they had no memories of it.  It was so, so cool to teach my kids (and remind myself) about where my husband came from and the forces that formed his early life.  I gained a much greater appreciation of who he is, and how far he has come and I think the kids did too. 
We taught the kids about their grandmother who died shortly before my daughter was born.  We are so grateful now that we took the time to record her 40 page oral history shortly before her death.  While we were reading that history on the trip, my kids were excited to find out that she ate chocolate and coke for breakfast while she was in High School.  They learned alot of other things too of course, like her love for antiques.  We took the kids to a store where she had sold antiques and immediately they became antique hounds too.  It is funny how apples fall so close to the tree, even when they hadn't been exposed to that much before. 
A really special time on the trip was when we got to go visit Kim's mother's grave.  My kids had never been to their grandmother's gravesite.  Kim got to clean the gravestone and we talked and had some moments of reflection there.  It was really sweet to say a prayer at that site sacred to our family.  Such a family bonding moment for all of us. 
The property that Kim's grandparents owned and where he lived for a time is now a motel and RV park so we actually stayed on the same property while we were there.  So cool!  It is a beautiful area and I can see why Kim misses the beautiful lake he grew up on. I think Kim enjoyed showing us around and I don't think it will be so long before we go back again next time. 
Then, 24 hours after we got home, my son Matthew and I took off for the Southern California Genealogical Society conference in Burbank, CA.  One of my favorite conferences (more on that in the next post) I have taken one child with me every year for the past several years.  This year was Matthew's turn and it was even better since they had asked him to speak.  We had a good time, just the two of us.  We checked out the Aquarium in Long Beach before the conference, were able to hit a few DNA sessions and then set up for the conference. 
Matthew was a great help at the booth.  It was nice to know things were taken care of while I gave my lectures and talked to some of our partners.  I really appreciate how everyone is so welcoming to him when he helps us out at conferences. 
And of course he nailed his "Get to Know Your Geezers" lecture.  It was livestreamed and in it he mentioned that you could use Elizabeth Shown Mills' book Evidence Explained to cite numerous sources--even a can of soda or the Declaration of Independence--and it has a "great plot".  Someone told her about that on facebook and she got a good laugh from that.  I'm just stinking proud of him no matter what sources he's citing.

It was a whirlwind but oh so fun.  I came back home to family reunion season in full swing so it has been busy busy busy.  But I love it.  This is what I've chosen and my life is awesomely full.  I am so blessed to get to work with and work for genealogists.  We've been creating some amazing charts for people already this summer.  Let me know when we can create one for your family. 

Saturday, June 6, 2015

5 More New Ways to Use Technology at Family Reunion Activities
This weekend my son Matthew and I are speaking at the SCGS Jamboree. One of our sessions includes sharing lots of great ideas about incorporating technology into your family reunions this summer.  When your family spends time learning about their family history together, it creates strong bonds in a way no other activity can. And guess what? Genealogy can be entertaining and interesting, especially when you get technology involved.

I'll be speaking on "Family History Adhesive: Science and Simple Tech for Binding Families" and "Family Links:Easy Interactive Online Activities to Share Your Family History".  And Matthew will be giving his "Get to Know Your Geezers" lecture.   If you are at Jamboree, we'd love to see you there.  If you're not, two of our lectures are being streamed live.  You can catch them on Sunday morning and Sunday afternoon at 

I'll be talking about some of the new ideas we've put in our Family Reunion E-books.  Here is a sampling of a few of the new ways to use technology at your family reunion from the books:
  1.  Family YouTube Channel. Be sure you are creating new family history for the next generation to enjoy by preserving the audio and video of these family history presentations. Record the talent show, the family lip sync and the family history skits and share them with family members or upload them to your family YouTube channel. 
  2. Interview a Generation. Set up a couple of comfortable chairs in a location with good lighting
    and a video camera on a tripod. Let family members interview each other and tell stories and
    sing songs together. You could provide sample question prompts or a specific topic to talk
    about or just let family members come up with their own. Post the videos on the family website
    or your family YouTube channel. These videos are great to share online after the reunion or watch together at the next reunion.
  3.  Health Survey. Create a family health survey to find out more about health trends in your
    family. Family members could answer the survey on paper, or electronically through or a Google Doc survey. If you have a health worker in the family they
    may be able to collect the surveys before the reunion and prepare a presentation about the findings or you might hire a professional outside the family to analyze the information. Discuss
    what the family can do to be healthier.
  4.  Family History Prezi Presentation. Collect family photos, videos and stories into a
    presentation. (Ask a younger family member to help assemble the presentation if necessary.)
    Tell about the immigration of an ancestor, or a particularly hard challenge that a family member overcame. Or focus on the timeline of one ancestor and experiences they had in their lifetime. Deliver the presentation to your family with an LCD projector and make the presentation public and share it over your family’s social media so they can view it again later.
  5.  Google Earth Presentation. Place your family history into a geographical context with a tour
    of where your family came from. Include photos, videos and map overlays to describe what
    your family’s past was like. Present your production to the family in a special show with an
    LCD projector.
If you are unfamiliar with some of these online resources, choose your favorites and delegate them to those who welcome technology.  It's a great way to get the techies in your life involved with other family members and showing off their skills.

These ideas along with many others are included in my newest book, "My Ancestor Family Reunion Version".  Over 100 pages of meaningful family reunion ideas and activities will involve all ages both in the family reunion planning and at the event itself.  Choose from 8 versions of "My Ancestor Family Reunion" that teach more about British, German, Jewish, Swedish, Mormon, Danish, Civil War, and Pioneer heritage.  Click here to purchase this e-book now for immediate download.  You will instantly have ideas to implement at your upcoming family reunion.  Happy planning!