Monday, May 31, 2010

Remembering, Memorial Day 2010

My hubby gave me a pretty awesome gift this weekend. He took the two younger boys and drove more than 1000 miles to spend the weekend with his side of the family in California. I was definitely up to spending time with family but the thought of 24 hours in a car (back and forth) just wasn't as appealing. Since we have a BIG graduation ceremony to celebrate at the end of this week and wanting to spend some quality one-on-one time with my soon-to-be-graduating senior I jumped at the chance to stay home when my sweet husband gave me the option!

What a FANTASTIC weekend! I was amazed at how much we got done...and remarkably at the same time, having plenty of down time to do nothing! Trent helped me whip the yard (ok, a small corner of the yard) back into shape, knock down the pile of laundry, take time for quiet worship at church, barbecue a mass of meat on the 'bar-b', whip up a batch of chocolate chip cookies for the neighbors and curl up to watch a movie together. (He watched...I fell asleep!)

We NEVER would have gotten so much done had the entire family been here!

Traditionally, our Memorial Weekend is spent in Cache County visiting the gravesides of loved ones. This year, my thoughts turned to those family members who have served our country in the armed forces. I thought I'd take a minute to honor them here.

This first treasure is one of my oldest tangible pieces of history for my side of the family. I found it among my grandmother's records. I wish I had a story to accompany this fantastic document, but I am thrilled to feel a personal connection to the Revolutionary War.

I never got to meet Kevin's dad. He died several years before Kevin and I met. I'm glad for the pictures that have helped me get to know him better. He fought in World War II, earning a purple heart for the life-altering injuries that he sustained.

I never got to hear Gus's stories of life in the trenches, but his younger brother Earl filled in the details with his own experiences. Just 13 months younger than his brother Gus, Earl has been my biggest help putting the genealogical puzzle together for this side of the family. He has generously shared all of his photographs and lovingly told the story that accompanies each picture.

Everyone needs an Uncle Earl in their life!

Here are some pictures of Uncle Earl in 1945. I think he is movie-star handsome!

I also have a great heritage of patriotic service on my side of the family. My paternal grandfather served in the Navy throughout his life.

My father enlisted during the Korean War conflict. Gratefully, he never saw combat.

As I dug through the family pictures, I came across other records of quiet service by family members.
Not only am I proud to be an American. I am proud (and very grateful) to be connected to these great human beings.

We wish each of you a most memorable Memorial Day!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

WBFF Fox 45

As part of our whirlwind trip to Washington DC, we took a slight detour north (and to the east, I think) to Baltimore city. At first, Colton was put out because 3 days in DC is not enough. To share part of that precious time was hard for him to accept. He was right, but how could I turn down the opportunity to share my love of story telling with a news reporter on Fox TV?

Our plane landed at 11:30 pm. By the time we got to the hotel, unpacked and got ourselves tucked in, it was pushing 1:00 am. That's a normal day for me. But to turn around and have to get moving 4 1/2 hours later and ESPECIALLY to get a 13-year-old moving at that hour was nothing short of a miracle.

My moments with Megan Gilliland were delightful. Her energy was exactly what I needed to shake the cobwebs and wake up! She had just returned from covering a house fire and moments after introducing herself she was fully launched in reporting on ways to preserve family stories.

Here's the link to our news story. I feel like Julia Childs next to the tiny, petite Megan. We got to visit Julia's kitchen at the Smithsonian and I cracked up when I saw pictures of Julia towering over her kitchen guests. That's exactly how I felt standing next to Megan.

{Family 411 Report}

Colton was willing to share one of DC hours when Megan suggested that he be part of the interview. I wasn't so sure that was a good idea. My kids are amazingly supportive of this time-consuming, money-sucking adventure, but they also like to tell people what life is really like as their mom tries to portray the feeling of corporate America. The reality is that the boardroom table is my dining table and it's not unusual to have to eat in the backyard because every flat surface in the house is being used for Stories by Me creations. Gratefully, Megan didn't air the answer to one of her questions posed to the thirteen-year-old. She asked what he thought of his mom trying to start up her own business. His response? He thought I was just being lazy because I didn't want a REAL job? Huh? I don't think I've ever worked harder!

After our moment in the spot light we hit the ground running to see ALL of the sites of Washington DC (and Baltimore). I really think we covered every last inch of the city! Our feet are willing to back up that statement.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Generations Pocket Book

Tah dah! It's our big day to share what's kept us one minute from completely losing it.

Do you remember our first introduction to pocket books? These versatile little books have so much going for them. First of all, they're simple. Notice that there's not a lot of text. Simple to finish...simple to pick up and want to read it! Because the books are bound using a couple of metal book rings, you don't have to sweat creating the PERFECT book. Wanna add a page, or make a change? No problem!

The only thing that we could find wrong with our fun little project was that it took time to make. All those pictures needed to be individually formatted, printed, cut out and glued on.

Well, things just got a WHOLE lot easier!
Stories by Me is excited to announce QuickMix Pocket Books for your MemoryMix software.

Our first Pocket Book project is called Generations Through the Years. If you can fill out a Pedigree Chart and drag and drop pictures on a page, YOU can make this book!

We've done all the work by designing and formatting the pages. All you do is add your pictures, add your family names, add some dazzle {only if you want to} and print one copy...or (and this is the BEST part!) a hundred copies. You own the project!

We were blown away at how fast we created this book! What used to take the better part of a day is now completed in about an hour. {Keep in mind that it does help to have ALL of your family pictures already digitized and ready to use!}

I am literally holding in one hand the stories of more than 60 family members! The pages document the relationships of six generations of family. The pockets contain mini stories and extra pictures. The MemoryMixer software will also let me add video and a voice recording to my story. The pocket is the perfect size for stashing the CD or DVD once I finish.
We shared this project with Megan Gilliland at Fox 45 WBFF Baltimore last Friday. The story is airing Wednesday morning. We'll share the link as soon as we get it. In honor of our moment in the spotlight, we're offering FREE SHIPPING on ALL OF OUR PRODUCTS through the end of May. MemoryMixer is also sharing the love! They will give away a copy of of our Knowing Them QuickMix with every purchase of their MemoryMixer Software. This is a limited time offer, so be sure to check it out sooner than later!

Here are a few more pages to inspire...

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Cool Stuff Found at National Genealogy Conference

I am sitting at my computer staring at a big 'ol pile of literature that we collected at the recent NGS Conference in Salt Lake City. Where have the last two weeks gone? We felt like little kids in a candy shop. Only problem is that we were supposed to be 'working' the event. We felt darn lucky to even be there. Lucky because 'she who shall remain nameless' forgot to sign us up for the event!) Thanks Bev at Fun Stuff for Genealogists for taking us in under your wing. If you came to the event on Wednesday, we were in the booth that had the line of people snaking half way through the conference hall. Bev has it all! Maybe I should say Bev had it all. By day four she had run out of many items. Looking for wall charts, clipart, or specialty rubber stamps? If it's related to Genealogy, Fun Stuff's probably got it!

Branches - Genealogy Software for the 21st Century
Ok, this one has me captivated. This new software is amazingly easy to use (you can zoom all over the map using your mouse's track wheel). You can see ALL of your genealogy on one screen. Want to see the children of your great-great grandparents? Just twirl the mouse wheel to zoom in on a detail. It shows you everything that you've collected on a person; pictures, documents, you name it. If it's connected to a family member, you'll see it here. It really is quite amazing. And you can own it for under $40 bucks. WOW! Branches "Put the Fun Back in Genealogy!"

Artist Valerie Atkisson - Valerie is a visual artist whose career has been profoundly influenced by her family history. Her work has been on display in museums throughout the United States. The picture below shows the senior portraits of three generations of women in one family. If you look carefully, you'll see clues to the lives of these women. Can you guess which one was a seamstress? A secretary? Loved city life?

Valerie also created a three-dimensional map of her ancestry. It's hard to visual the magnitude of the piece, but try imagine a tree that hangs from ceiling to floor. Each generation's vital data has been preserved on triangles of rice paper. 72 generations are preserved in this piece of art. (Anyone know how many people that represents? I can't wrap my mind around those kind of numbers!) I think Valerie said that this piece is currently on display in the Museum of Art at Brigham Young University. Definitely worth the drive to see this in person!

Here's something that needs to be checked out. Hi-Lite.org provides all of the power of an ordinary highlighter pen (you know...the ones that got you through school reading assignments) but now you can highlight the universe! It's perfect for bookmarking favorite websites, and researching your digital family records. Did I mention that it's FREE?

Well, that's all for today. Still more 'candy' to share, but it'll have to wait for another day!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Suni's Silhouette Project

A while ago Lauri shared some fun silhouette projects {here}. Since then, I have been wanting to create my own family tree out of silhouettes. Mother's Day was a perfect reason! I captured pictures of each family member, then followed this simple tutorial to create a personalized silhouette that actually bares resemblance to the person featured.

Here is what I ended up with.

Yes, Mom cried. Mother's Day was a success!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Have much to share, just can't squeeze two minutes together to collect our thoughts, let alone put a complete sentence together....on paper (even the digital type).

We have a huge pile of ideas, products and projects that were gathered at the National Genealogy Society (NGS) Conference (was it really two weeks ago?) that we're dying to share! We were so grateful to be guests at Fun Stuff for Genealogist's booth. It made it really easy to sneak away from time to time to see what else was at the conference. Personally, I felt like a kid in a candy shop. There were so many yummy distractions!

We've missed sharing some of our projects and ideas these last couple of weeks. That doesn't mean that the gears aren't turning (WAIT until you see what Suni did with her grandmother's tea cups!). It just means that we can't possibly add another thing to our overflowing plates right now. A couple of week's ago we received a phone call from a TV station wanting to interview little ol' us! Imagine our excitement! Excitement turned to disappointment when we learned that the station was in Baltimore and we'd need to get there on our own dime. Ah, but wait... I just happened to have a trip planned to Washington DC...and isn't DC a hop, skip and a jump to the Baltimore area? So this coming Friday, Megan Gilliland of WBFF Fox45 will be learning the Stories by Me way of preserving stories. AND...we will share with her our newest project (drum roll please...) oh uh, gotta wait til Friday!

So while you wait (we hope with bated breath) we share with you a sliver of Utah history. It's a big day here in Utah...actually it was a big day (back on May 10, 1869). This was the day that Union Pacific tracks connected with the Central Pacific railroad. It was a big enough deal to call for major celebrations on both sides of the continent. My heart goes out to all the pioneer women who made the 13 week trip by wagon. I can go insane with only a three hour car ride when my kids incessantly ask "Are we there yet?"

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

More Handwritten Memories to LOVE!

A favorite Stories by Me maxim
"Your Story, much more than a book!"

I often marvel at the truth of that statement.

Kevin's paternal grandmother was known to be an excellent cook. Uncle Earl tells us that she started the school lunch program in the Lewiston area of Cache Valley, Utah. I would have LOVED to spent an hour or two with her in the kitchen. Supposedly she could tell the exact temperature of her coal-burning stove just by holding her hand to the oven door. Aunt Wilma says that Grandmother carried most of the recipes in her head. She never wrote many directions, she just seemed to have the built-in know how to create perfection in the kitchen.

It took a while to hunt down these recipes. They had been lovingly passed from family member to family member... none of them in our direct family line. Thank goodness for the digital age. I carefully scanned each image and had the originals returned within days. Now everyone can enjoy a copy of her recipes, in Grandma's own handwriting, complete with the proof that these recipes were family favorites.

How awesome are the hats? Grandma is second from the left in picture #1 and third from the left in the second picture.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Scattergories Champion

Just finished a rousing game of Scattergories with the family. For those needing a quick refresher on the object of the game, Scattergories is a word game of categories. You get points by listing objects in each category beginning with a given initial.

The best answer of the evening was to the category "Street Name"

The letter was 'T'.

The first four answers were given:
1. Third Street (basic, but it made the cut)
2. Thirty-three hundred South (random enough that no one else listed it)
3. Tanglewood Loop (duh, right down the road and an easy win... since no one else listed it)
4. Tanger Street (we hadn't heard of it, but Kevin swore it existed in his childhood hometown)

At this point our thirteen-year-old is laughing too hard to share his answer...

5. T. Diddy (the only 'street' name that he could come up with)!

We gave him double points for originality.

The final score to our Scattergories Championship is already forgotten, but I think we'll all remember the laughter. Sometimes it's the simple stories that need remembering.