The Ultimate Guide to Doing Family History as a Busy Parent

Ultimate Guide for finding time for family history

Is is possible to do family history when you're a young adult? When you have a 10-month old under foot? When you're driving around tweens and teens all over God's creation? Well, if you think it's not possible, you'd be wrong.

I'm not making a sudden announcement. I don't have a 10-month old but a friend does and her thoughts on this topic are listed below. No. I have have 5 superheroes that are home schooled. Meaning, not only do I harass them cleaning their rooms and doing their chores, I also have the joy of joyfully pestering them to do their school work throughout the day.  If we're not at a desk, where on the road going to the library, swim lessons, or co-op. At times I may grumble about the difficulty of the journey, but I wouldn't trade it for the world! And yet, their presence around the house all day means free time is taken when I can snag it.

That's why my blog's theme this year includes many posts written for busy parents. Yet, going to my genealogy society meetings and teaching at the local library, young parents are the only ones leading busy lives. However, today I wish to honor the busy parent from those with the youngest children to near adults and a near empty nest. So, I compiled this ultimate guide to making time for family history while your schedule is crazier than a toddler on too much sugar.

15 Tips For Searching Online Collections

15 Online Genealogy Research Tips

You have free time. Be it in the middle of the day or the middle of the night. You have the urge to search for more information about your ancestors. Let's jump online and see what we can find. But wait! Is there a way we can be more successful researching,, or

In three videos, representatives from three terrific online record collections share tips with you on how to use their websites.

Overcoming Tech Barriers in Journaling

Overcoming Journaling Barriers

Journaling. Many people hate journaling because of the limitations they feel in creating the book of thoughts. Perhaps you like to speak rather than type or write. Perhaps you like to hand write rather than type but would prefer the end product to be a printed book. Will you let those factors prevent you from preserving your life story a piece at a time?

Over the past few weeks, I've shared with you several ways you can preserve your story. Just to review the top three categories of journaling for busy people, they are:

Journaling With Apps
Journaling With Blog Books
Journaling Through Social Media

 All of these options require you to input your thoughts into an app or a computer program. But, what if you don't type or text quickly? Are you out of luck? No. You have two options to help in your journaling.

3 Suppliers to Start Your Scrapbook Stash

Digital Scrapbook Starter Kit

In 2009, I jumped on the digital scrapbook crazy and I've never looked back. I've made thousands of scrapbook pages during that time and there are three designers that I use in nearly every family scrapbook that I make, and a few of the heritage scrapbooks as well.

If you're just starting out in digital scrapbooking, you'll want to purchase Photoshop Elements. Then, you'll want to visit these three talented designers for all the basic supplies you'll need for your beginner stash of supplies. You'll have templates, background papers, decorative elements, and title art.

Guilt Free Multi-Tasking Personal History With Social Media

Social Media for Personal History

Chances are you're still feeling guilty about not keeping a journal or preserving your personal history. But today is the day to stop feeling the ghostly fears of unaccomplished tasks and accomplish something today!

If you have shared your life, your dogs, your food, or your genealogy findings on Faceobok or Twitter, you can turn those digital details into a physical world journal in less than 30 minutes! Oh, yeah. A busy person has time to record their personal history!!!

Your Ancestor is Not a Flower or Tree

6 Photos to Stop Adding to Ancestry

Online genealogy is a wonderful way to collaborate, and I highly encourage you to put your trees online and take advantage of the research hints that many database services provide. I love receiving clues about new-to-me records about my ancestors. I am especially ecstatic when there is a newly discovered photo of my ancestor in my hint queue.

What I cringe at are pictures of trees, flowers, and flags! STOP posting these unnecessary graphics on You're wasting the hinting feature resources and causing a lot of eye-rolling over here.

Journaling With Blog Books

Busy Mom Journaling Hack

One of the advantages of blogging about your life or your ancestor's lives is that you can create one 'letter' and then share it will all of your family members, friends, and others. Gone are the days when you wrote one letter and then made copies to send to everyone and hope they didn't feel slighted that you didn't write a different letter. (Okay, am I the only one who did this in the past?)

In short, blogging has made life staring more efficient. The other advantage of blogging is that you can share your life and then great a journal/diary/personal history at the same time. Man, I love time-saving hacks. Don't you?

5 Apps to Preserve Your Daily Memories

Busy Mom Journaling Apps

Knowing the benefits of journaling is one thing. A journal can help you evaluate and change your life right now, reflect on the past and treasure memories, or record your personal history for your future descendants. You know these benefits, but finding ways to keep a journal is a different matter.

Or is it? With the supercomputers we carry in our pockets or in purses, we have the power to keep a daily log of our life without the guilty. And if you're a desktop or laptop fan, like me, you have options as well. Check out these five apps that you can use to capture and preserve your life as it happens.

Friday Funny: Interesting Telephone Interview

Friday Funny Newspaper Interesting Telephone Interview

I found this funny piece in the newspaper. Try to guess what year this article was posted:

A FEMEAL STAFFER here had an interesting telephone conversation the other day. She was manning the telephones when a pleasant-sounding gentleman asked her in serious tones if he could ask her a question. Then he proceeds to inquire that, if this were the year 2000 and video-telephones were in vogue, would she be offended that he was calling in the altogether? 'Twas a somewhat different call from someone asking what happened at las tnight's City Council meeting.

When I came across this newspaper piece, I remembered watching the Jetsons. I remembered how Jane Jetson would sometimes put her 'good look' mask when she had had a bad day or just woken up. That's how she always looked good on screen.

It wouldn't be too far to imagine how people could 'hide' with video phones in 2017. But my question wasn't to think, are we living in the future of the caller's query? I was curious who was envisioning our day and asking the snickering quip?

The year was 1980, and the paper was the Merced Sun-Star from Merced, California. A location over 250 miles north of Hollywood!

Yellow and Blue Family Tree Layout

Family Tree Scrapbook Layout
Family Tree Scrapbook Layout. Template designed by Devon Noel Lee
All embellishments are recolored from their original designer.

Once you have made a digital scrapbook featuring your family history, it's easier to work on another person's project. This year I'm working on a heritage album featuring my mother-in-law as the focal person. Shhh.. she's out of the country right now. Don't tell her how the project is coming along.

What's interesting is that with her living and her life history written and photos digitized, one would think that I could jump in with both feet and knock this baby out quickly. Yet her scrapbook has been on my to-do list for a few years now. Sure life with five superheroes to raise has busy seasons. Yet this book just would not get started. Finally, I decided to just do it. I mean, I tell you to create a scrapbook about your family history now. In fact, I made a video about it. (See the video below). And yet, I wasn't practicing what I was preaching.

Inspirational video from FamilyHistoryFanatics. Click to watch.

So, I started with the first layout every heritage scrapbook should have - a family tree. I chose the colors yellow and blue because they are my mother-in-law's favorite colors, though the shades might not be the exact preferences.

In the past, I have shared family trees that I created for my parents and my mother's parents. Each one was a little different and could have worked for this scrapbook, but I wanted to do something a little different. I didn't want to have a tree image be a part of the layout. I also wanted my mother-in-law at the top. Finally, I didn't want to use ovals for the photos, as I have incorporated in previous designs.

Once I arranged some boxes for the names. I used rectangles with rounded corners for the pictures. Then I used the line tool in Photoshop Elements to establish the connections between the generations. There is a principle in scrapbooking that everything should touch in some way. The lines achieved that design tip while demonstrating the genealogical relations. Hooray! Two for one.

Finally, after I arranged the photos in a linear fashion, I didn't like it. That is until I tilted the portraits of the couples a bit. This simple customization gave the tree a more casual, intimate feel.

For the background paper, I initially chose a yellow paper with a soft pattern that was in my digital stash. I didn't like the exact color the designer had chosen, so I removed the color using Photoshop Elements. I tried to recolor the paper to the yellow of my color scheme, and it never felt right. So, I just left the gray version of the pattern paper. It was neutral, and those colors (gray, white, black, tan) always work well in heritage scrapbooks with a pop of color across the page.

Finally, I added some embellishments in the upper left corner to draw your eye to the top of the page. One would think we would start at that corner because we read from left to right and from top to bottom. However, that row of photos at the lower part of the tree kept bringing the eye there while ignoring my mother-in-law at the top. The decorative corner finished the job and now I'm happy with the results.

What do you think? Would you change anything on the layout? Do you like it? Let me know in the comments section below.

In the meantime, it's time to do the other 19 pages for my mother-in-law's book.

Staying Relevant By Serving Members - Genealogy Society Success Story

Modern Genealogy Society Tips

Are genealogical societies and libraries dying? Some might say so, but after meeting the folks who manage the Lamar County Genealogical Society while attending the Texas State Genealogy Society Conference, I was thoroughly impressed. Libraries and societies still play a vital role in preserving our local, state, and national heritage. The trick is, being relevant to members and patrons. Lamar County sets a high standard of local excellence.

Lamar County Genealogy Society Building

I love red brick buildings. They are solidly built and timeless. The color doesn't fade over time and brightens dreary winter or rainy days. But the magic doesn't end with the brick. Step inside, and you'll be inundated with resources in this far north Texas repository.

Extreme Genes at RootsTech 2017

RootsTech was an action-packed four-day event, but a highlight was meeting some of the regulars on ExtremeGenes: America's Family History Show. My husband and I made arrangements to interview Scott Fisher, David Allen Lambert, and Tom Perry and enjoyed every minute of the visits.

The question I have for you is, which ExtremeGene do you like better? To vote, you need to watch the following videos. The ExtremeGene with the most views is differently the most popular. But, if you leave a comment on the Family History Fanatics YouTube channel for the men, that will also sway the standings. So, let the competition begin: 

Fisher shares how ExtremGenes began and a little bit about
my favorite episode involving Elmer McCurdy

David shares what it's like being the kid genealogist with
a 40-year involvement in the pursuit

Tom is the preservation expert so knowledgeable he should be a professor.

To listen to the Radio Roots Sleuths who help us shake our family trees and watch the nuts fall out, check out to learn when you can find them on your radio or as a podcast. 

If you enjoyed these interviews, tell me in the comments section who I should interview in the future. The Family History Fanatics video series strives to keep the fun in genealogy and serve you and your topics of interest. If you are looking for a way to support my family and me, consider subscribing to the channel, so you never miss an episode. Then, like the videos you want to see more of. 

Busy Mom Memory Keeping Compilation

Memory Keeping for Busy Lives

Memory Keeping when you're a busy mom of young ones underfoot, tweens that you chauffeuring all over, or some combination of the two while keeping a house clean and a job paying the bills is a challenge that's rarely accepted. But, no need! There are many solutions to memory keeping, you just need to find the one that works for you.

Why I Share Family History with My Children

Share Family History With Kids

Growing up far from family, I often feared what would happen to me if my parents or only brother died. I would feel like an emotional orphan even if I returned to Columbus, Ohio to live with my Grannie.

My mother did a great job of telling me a few things about my Papa, her daddy that died when I was knee-high to a grasshopper. I knew that Papa was watching over me and there are times I felt him holding my hand as a latch-key kid walking to school. My greatest desire is to meet Papa and have him dance with me. Do you remember any commercial that shows little girls dancing with their feet on their daddy's? That's the imagine my mother painted about Papa, and I want to have that experience, though I probably shouldn't step on his feet since I'm not so little any longer.

End Your Photo Hoarding Guilt with Recap Photo Books

Year in Review Photobooks for Busy Moms

Snap. You just took another photo using your tablet, smartphone, or DSLR camera. But what are you going to do with that picture? Maybe you'll share it in a text to your relatives who weren't able to attend Sammy's dance recital. Maybe you'll share the photo to Flickr because you captured the most beautiful flower you've ever seen. Or maybe, you'll post to Instagram or Facebook so everyone can know about your latest field trip or vacation.

After that, what happens to your photos?

Be honest!

Most people do nothing with the thousands of photos they capture. Do you panic if your iDrive or GooglePhotos account loses a photo? Do you cringe at the thought of deleting any photo? It's your child's precious moments. It's your dream vacation or home remodel process.

But really! If you don't create something with the photos, you are a photo hoarder, and you need an intervention!

A Lunch Conversation That Opened My Eyes

Sheri Camp RootsTech Keynote

With the Cake Boss and a cake competition and large model kitchen in the Expo Hall, one obvious theme at RootsTech 2017 was food. Many presenters spoke about the need and how to preserve the traditional recipes of our families. Call me crazy if you want to, but I have a question.

"How do I preserve the number for Dominoes?"

My mother's food motto was, "If it couldn't be nuked, baked, or ordered in, it wasn't done." We ate a lot of take-out, home delivery, and frozen food. Sometimes we went crazy and had Hamburger Helper or Shake n Bake.  So, how do I pass down those recipes?

Often, I lament not having traditional family recipes to pass down to my children. This year ended that feeling after lovely epiphany-inducing experience

German Names in Print?

Can you find German names in print

Do you have Germans in your Ancestral line? I do. And I'll be honest. For the most part, I have no idea how to pronounce their names as a German would. I have a friend who patiently puts up with me saying, "How do you pronounce Geiszler?" or "How do you pronounce Puesecker?" I love that man for putting up with me. Poor guy. Who would have thought that being originally from Germany and befriending a genealogist would mean he would have to put up with my desire to learn more?

But, then I remember the stories I have heard about the destruction of German gravestones in Ohio during WWI and WWII. I've heard about Germans changing their names during that time period to hide their ethnicity. Germans received mocking from racism based on where their family lines originated. So perhaps my peppering a native German now living in my town in Texas with questions about his homeland and language is actually a sign of progress?

Regardless, I'm constantly trying to learn more about my German roots. A dear friend, Jenna Mills of Desperately Seeking Surnames, shared a fun resource with me. It's called Meyer's Gazetteer. Now, the landing page doesn't explain much, so I naively plugged in my family's last name of Geiszler. The website found not hints and recommended using wildcards. So, I put in the name Gei*ler. And this is what I saw:

Suggetions for Future RootsTech Keynotes

RootsTech Keynote Wishlist

Keynote speakers set the stage for a conference and the center of many tweets, photos, and interviews. Pick the right ones, and conference attendees are thrilled and praise the event. Pick the wrong one, and people won't fill the assembly hall in the future. RootsTech has had some wonderful keynote presenters in the past, and some that were less than thrilling.

After considering what makes me want to park my bottom at a keynote address rather than sleep in at RootsTech, I'll share with you my wish of future keynote speakers for RootsTech 2018 and beyond. Feel free to comment on these individuals or your favorites who aren't on my list.

My favorite RootsTech speakers fall into four categories: History Buffs, Eye Candy, Entertainers, and Business Leaders. If a speaker is a big name, but doesn't have an obvious connection to the theme of genealogy and technology, I have a hard time wanting to listen to the keynote. And the keynote, perhaps without realizing the pressure, have a difficult communication obstacle to overcome. The following individuals make the cut because they would have a more natural fit to the conference.

Pleasantly Suprised by Property Brothers RootsTech Keynote

Property Brothers at RootsTech

When an audience member is unfamiliar with a keynote speaker and can not the connection between a conference topic and said speaker's background, a giant hurdle blocks the communication process. The question was, could Jonathan and Drew Scott, HGTVs "Property Brothers" establish the connection between real estate and genealogy?

The keynotes from RootsTech 2016 did not grab me in the way the 2015 Keynotes from Donny Osmond and Tan Le did. I'll admit, the only 2017 speaker that excited me was LaVar Burton because I remember him on Star Trek and Reading Rainbow. Knowing he was also in the groundbreaking television mini-series "Roots," emphasized the natural connect between this celebrity and the topic of genealogy.

Truthfully, I wasn't expecting much from the Scott Brothers. My family watches minuscule amounts of TV, Scott Brothers rate with the names any Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader. They're out there. They do a service. Some people know who they are and want to meet them. But for me, nah! I'm not interested.

Preserving Memories: An Event at A Time

Preserving Memories an event at a time

Moms, Dads, and Grandparents alike have a big problem. They don't make time for memory keeping! Yet, preserving our memories is a vital part of our health and wellness and fuels genealogy. Parents and married couples now have a faster memory keeping project that is also frugal!

An event book can enter around one special day in a child's life or a recurring anniversary. The trick is to find a self-contained, already decorated keepsake that you simply add written words and photos too. Further, the project should have a small page count.

Improving Temple Ordinance Accuracy at RootsTech

FamilySearch Family Tree Accuracy

For 13 years, I had a problem. A colossal problem. A rookie genealogist problem that messed up my family tree and my service in a Latter-Day Saint Temple. At RootsTech, a new booth helped me improve the temple ordinance accuracy for my relative.

I am a Fan Girl. I seriously need a shirt that states the fact, but I wonder if there's a licensing issue that might get in the way. Alas, there's one limitation when you take a name to the temple that shouldn't have passed the checks. It's often difficult to prove the ordinance wasn't needed and thereby have it invalidated.

This year, I went to the FamilySearch booth at RootsTech and asked a representative for help. Now, many will say, just use the contact us options on I have. The support staff that you can contact 24/7 365 are great, but they're volunteers. Some problems are not solvable through the volunteers. Sometimes you need to go to an engineer.

A Genealogy Conference Fling?

Family History Fanatics are Married

When you're dressed the same and at a conference, usually you're with your colleagues. It's not often that two people similarly attired are as close as Andy and me. Which is why when we tag team at conferences people often say, "Are you married?"

In October, some conference staff members at the Texas State Genealogical Society that to presenters with the last name Lee was terrific. When we stood close together, checked on each other's schedules, and even parted with a kiss, one woman hoped we weren't having an affair at the conference. Stranger things have happened! Soon, it was quite clear that Andy and I were married and very much in love. The next comment was, "Wow! That's doesn't happen often. Few couples enjoy family history together."

Imagining Andy and I having a fling at a genealogy conference was so comical in October. Yet, the same mind shocks happened in Salt Lake!

Rockin the RootsTech After Party

MyHeritageDNA RootsTech After Party Karaoke

After two days of interviewing, teaching, and networking, Andy and I were t-i-r-e-d but on a massive high. Ten days before RootsTech, I had laryngitis and had barely recovered by Wednesday. Mix in the dry Utah climate, and my throat was parched and strained. I could not drink enough water to hydrate the cords, but I continued to talk and teach I did! Friday evening, I had one more demand for my voice, and I hoped it would cooperate.

MyHeritageDNA invited Andy and me to their After Party. My friend Kerry was hoping Andy and I would willingly sing and perhaps sing first.

Beginner Basics: What Makes a Good Source?

What is a good genealogy source

Family Trees should be based on PROOF of relationships. Otherwise, I could claim I was related to anyone I wanted - a king, a president, a famous singer, or even you! You will find proof in sources, but not all sources are created equal. What makes a good source?

A Class So Good the Door Monitor Bought Our Book - RootsTech

Start Writing Your Family History Today Lab

Networking and Ambassador status aside, Andy and I had a job today. RootsTech hired us to teach two labs on Friday afternoon, and it was time to put up or shut up as a speaker. And, a loyal blog follower was in the audience!

There are so many classes at conferences that fill your head with things to do when you leave. But Andy and I wanted to have class participants actually accomplish a task. Write one story about one event in one ancestor's life in one hour. Could it be done?

Beware the Woman and Her Gun

Beware the Woman and Her Gun a comical genealogical discovery

When a genealogist says you never know what you're going to find when you start looking, the axiom is gospel truth. When working with a friend on his family tree, I discovered an unnamed woman who was not about to be deterred by his relative and defended her home by lethal force. In short, the lesson to learn is to beware the woman and her gun when it comes to her home.

Making the Most of Meal Times - RootsTech

Networking at RootsTech

In White Christmas, Danny Kaye croons "The Best Things Happen While You're Dancing." I love to dance but I'll have to disagree. At RootsTech, some of my favorite moments happened while eating!

One of the best parts of a conference is the opportunity to network. I had made contact with Melissa Finlay after seeing her family's entry for the Innovator Showdown.

Unfortunately, their Little Family Tree game app didn't make the semifinals. But, I really like the pull technology they are promoting.  The app has a gallery of games for young children to play with their family heritage information pulled from

Little Family Tree App Games
The Game Gallery on  LittleFamilyTree

The pull part of these games requires content (stories, photos, and facts) to be attached to your relatives on FamilySearch. If you try to play a game, Little Family Tree will let you know when you need more content to improve the game. See.. pull technology.

I have an interview with Melissa's husband about this app and more on FamilyHistoryFanatics in a few weeks. You'll want to subscribe to the channel so you don't miss that interview! the app.

But lunch wasn't about the app. Lunch was about bonding as mothers who homeschool and also about our passion for genealogy. We talked about so many other things while chowing down. It was such a joy and I have a new friend in the genealogy sphere.

Manger's Specials at Comfort Inn

For the second year in a row, we stayed a short distance away from the Salt Palace at Comfort Inn. What we love about the Comfort Inn is the Manager's Special on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday night. The special involves free drinks and appetizers. After hustling all day and a wonderful lunch from the Salt Palace vendors, all I needed was a few appetizers to fill me up.

But the best thing about the social is the social part. Other conference attendees were enjoying themselves and we gathered to discuss our favorite classes (well, their favorite classes as I hadn't attended any on the first day. Praise the Lord for the streaming post conference and handouts). We chatted about the things we love about genealogy, the things that frustrate us, and the things we'd like to see in the future. These chats are rarely with the 'celebrities' of genealogy or reality TV but they're some treasured memories. Unfortunately, I forget to take photos to remember the people I meet at these socials. But perhaps it's just as well.

As you can see, some of my best moments happened while stuffing my face! Irving Berling, you wrote a great song for a great movie, but in this cause, you're wrong!

Just in case you wanted to hear Danny Kaye croon the song that this post centers around. Click the video link above!

Further RootsTech Conference Reading:
Family History Fanatics Videos from RootsTech 2017

Interviews, Interviews, and More Interviews - RootsTech

RootsTech Expo Hall Interviews

How have you liked the coverage of RootsTech by all of the Ambassador's in the blogosphere? If you didn't attend RootsTech or if you did but didn't see everything you wanted to, hopefully the Ambassadors have helped you have more depth to your experience.

With 1.5 days to capture interviews, Andy and I hustled and are super excited about what we've captured for you. As we chatted with planned interviewees or asked people spontaneously, I became so exciting thinking about you my readers and video viewers. I became excited to shed some light on people doing great things in genealogy or just something fun. Andy and I were putting into practice the many "Rookie Smarts" tips  Liz Wiseman shared in her Wednesday keynote

RT: Covering A Conference With a Hearing Problem

Conference Coverage by Hearing Impaired Reporter

What did they say? Can you repeat that? Gosh, it's so loud, I have no idea what you said? Can I sit closer, I can't hear?

Welcome to the thoughts I that plague me when I'm in church, book club, or any workshop. Multiply this by 1,000, and I'm in trouble if I want to pursue conference coverage for this blog and the YouTube channel.

RT: Thank Goodness for the Media Hub

RootsTech Ambassadors Media Hub

As stated in "Using My Privilege for You," I focused on using my Ambassador status to serve you. To accomplish those goals, I used the Media Hub a little bit. There were charging stations for my phone and computer that needed constant resupplying. I had an ethernet cable to upload my videos to YouTube without using wi-fi. Oh sweet blessing! And, I made more friends. I loved the Hub!

The Media Hub had numerous places for Ambassadors to interview the keynote speakers, major sponsors, or each other. The Media Hub Staff helped Ambassadors arrange such interview. This year I didn't take advantage of those perks as much I could have. Depending upon what you'd like me to cover in 2018, I might change my strategy. (So be sure to leave a comment below regarding the reporting I've done and what you'd like to have Andy and I do next year.)

Using My Privilege for You - RootsTech

RootsTech Ambassador Devon Noel Lee

When you're given an opportunity, you grab it by the horns and get to work. That's what happened in January. Andy and I received Ambassador status to cover the RootsTech conference, in addition to our speaking commitments. This was a fabulous opportunity for us to provide conference coverage for our Family History Fanatics channel on YouTube. Have you checked it out? You should. (Here's the link)

After a great night's sleep in Salt Lake City, Andy and I headed to the Salt Palace to hit the ground running capturing interviews and covering the RootsTech conference for you, our tribe. The first special perk was early access to the vendor hall.

Roots Tech: And Emotional Landing

Family History Fanatics and RootsTech

It's hard to believe that 100,000 people tuned into the live streaming of RootsTech 2017 when 10,000+ were attending in person on Thursday and Friday. Knowing what it felt like to be at home when the fun was happening in Salt Lake, I wanted to serve my readers and YouTube followers. But first I had to get there!

My husband and I flew into Salt Lake on Wednesday. We have these five kiddos that think they need food, clothing, and housing. As such, Andy has to work as an engineer, which makes time off scarce. I have to arrange childcare for FIVE as they're not quite old enough to fend for themselves. It's really challenging to find someone who would take that many kiddos. I remember it being much easier to arrange childcare for one or two.

As I packed my bags, I listened to Liz Wiseman's Rookie Smart's based keynote. I also watched the Twitter feed during her session and loved how people tweeted their favorite nuggets of wisdom.

My #genchat buddy and her fun #NotAtRootsTech photo!

If you haven't read the #NotAtRootsTech feed on Twitter, you need to take sit down with a glass of your favorite beverage and enjoy the feeds while watching the sessions that are still available at

So Andy worked a half day, and then we hustled the kids to my AMAZING cousin, and we hopped on a plane headed to the Rockies.  I was #NotAtRootsTech yet, but I would soon change my status to #RootsTech with boots on the ground, or rather hot pink sneakers.

As I landed, I choked with tears. You see, Salt Lake City Airport has numerous homecomings. Young men and women between the ages of 19-25 devote 18 months to 2 years of their lives to serve missions for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. And, their families stay behind and wait anxiously for their return. If you've ever experienced the return of military service men and women after a deployment, you have an idea of the homecomings that happen in the SLC airport. My good friend had just welcomed home her son to Houston after such a mission in Paraguay, so my tear factory was on high alert.

Andy and I passed the families as they craned their next to see their loved ones who were deplanning behind us. As soon as the cheers erupted, my tears flowed. I texted my friend, and she understood.

My Girlfriend knows these homecomings ass to well!

My heart aches for those who have service men and women or missionaries that they have limited contact with during the months and years they are apart. Their homecomings are emotional for them and this crazy woman with a super sentimental side. I'm so happy for their reunion, but I seriously needed to get some sleep because my figurative marathon was about to begin.

Further RootsTech Conference Reading:
Family History Fanatics Videos from RootsTech 2017

RootsTech: Better Every Year

RootsTech 2017

RootsTech 2017 was better than 2016.  Perhaps the second time around made RootsTech for me. Or perhaps this conference just had more things done well. I had a feeling things were going to be great when I noticed the signage.

"Sign, sign, everywhere a sign
Blockin' out the scenery, breakin' my mind
Do this, don't do that, can't you read the sign?"
"Signs" by Tesla
(originally by The Five Man Electrical Band)

Few people pay attention to the little details around a convention, but with my experience working for the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport in the marketing department, I learned to pay attention to the signs. The Salt Palace greeted you with a huge black and white 1920s era photo. SO inviting!

RootsTech Outside Signage

 As you descended the escalators from the street level towards the registration, you were greeted not only by vertical signage emphasizing major sponsors of the conference. Additionally, directional signage on the floor pointed which way to go once you stepped off the descending staircase.

RootsTech 2017 Floor signage

Seriously ya'll. Whoever thought of this idea, and then designed and implemented it, needs a raise! Having driven in a major city like Houston for two years and noticing the painted signage on the traffic congested high-speed freeways, sometimes what's on the ground is a better traffic flow assistant than the vertical signs. Well done!!!!

RootsTech Registration Signage
Registration signage. Really sets the tone for the event.

There's an App for That!

Last year the RootsTech app was less than helpful and didn't work half the time. This year, the app was better. Unfortunately, getting access to handouts was available through numerous steps using the app (no website access available). Thankfully, my buddy Randy Seaver helped me find a web based hack that got around this problem. (Click here for the link to his hack!)

RootsTech App 2017

I loved the announcements in the App and using it to find my way around the Expo Hall. That's what a conference app should do.

What I didn't like was that the app was supposed to be a social sharing app. I need simplicity in my life. I have Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus in addition to my YouTube Channel. I don't need yet another platform in which to be social. If the social aspect was scuttled in next year's app, I would have plenty of space for the app on my phone with a minuscule storage capacity.

Knowing What to Expect

RootsTech is a super conference compared to the Texas State Genealogical Society Conference or even a Houston homeschool conference. Last year, I knew few people and didn't know what to expect. This year, I knew what to expect and had more friends. And I made new ones too! Gotta love that!

RootsTech Branding
More small details!

RootsTech 2017 was better logistically thanks to the small details and a better app. But, it was likely a better experience because it was my second time around.

3 Secrets for Making Time for Family History

Busy Mom Genealogy Secret Weapons

"How do you do it? With five children to homeschool and service in my church, how do I find time to do genealogy?" I hear this compliment all the time and it's time I share my secrets.

Life can seem so busy that we feel like we’re Bugs Bunny playing every position on a baseball field. Many articles are written about managing time so you can do more.; however, more time can not be found. You have to plan your time to do what matters most. Today, I'll share my three secret weapons for making time to do something that strengthens my family and myself in the process.

Cosplay at RootsTech

When I told my daughter that RootsTech was like a ComicCon, I was trying to explain the scope of the event to her. Little did I know that there would be a few cosplayers at RootsTech that would make my analogy more accurate.

Before I show you want I'm talking about, you have to understand a few terms.

International Exhibitors Increase Presence at RootsTech

QingTime Bella Italia UKRINIURKOLEGUIA at RootsTech

With 30,000 attendees, 200+ classes, and labs, and famous keynote speakers, RootsTech 2017 provided an extraordinary opportunity to teach and inspire others to focus on their family, their ancestral family.

One understated increase at the conference was the increase in the number of international vendors in the Expo Hall. There non-United States booths included:

  • Ukraine - Ukrainian Bar Association for Foreign Affairs
  • China - Jiangsu Time Information Technology Co., Ltd.
  • Ireland - Irish Family History Centre
  • Finland - Finland's Family History Association
  • Italy - Bella Italia Genealogy di Bovino Alessandro 
  • Italy - Museo del Cognome
  • French Quebec - Institut généalogique Drouin
  • Scotland - Genealogy Tours of Scotland
  • Germany -  Germanic Genealogy Society
  • Germany - International German Genealogy Partnership
  • Belgium - Histoires de Familles
  • Europe - Into the Past

With Ambassador privileges, a lapel mic, and camera, Andy and I decided to spotlight a few of those vendors.

Capturing Personal History with Emberall

Emberall at RootsTech 2017

Capturing and sharing life stories has never been easier! Set up an account with Emberall and create a video in 30 minutes that lasts forever. RootsTech Innovator Top Five Finalist.

Emberall helps you "Record the Story of Your Life." According to promotional material, Emberall captures interview clips, a question at a time, into albums. Then these clips are compiled into a life story video that you and your loved ones can view as a whole or in segments online or on your personalized DVD. What would cost around $2,000 for a professional service, now costs a fraction of the cost with Emberall!  

Each February, technology developers and entrepreneurs compete for $190,000 in prizes as they pitch their innovations in the genealogy industry to celebrity judges, industry influencers, and a live audience. If you have a great innovation, consider participating in RootsTech 2018. This website will recap the 2017 experience.

Further Reading:

Further RootsTech Conference Reading:
Family History Fanatics Videos from RootsTech 2017

Go and capture your family stories or the stories about you and your life. Emberall makes it easier.

Interview with RootsTech winner Bill Nelson of OldNewsUSA

OldNewsUSA Innovator Showdown Winner RootsTech

Bill Nelson took home top honors at the RootsTech Innovator Showdown with his pain solving problem OldNewsUSA Mobile App. If you've ever used Chronicling America to research newspaper, you know the content is great, but the search engine stinks like rotten tomatoes. OldNewsUSA rolls out with an Android solution to that problem.

Bill sat down with Devon Noel Lee of Family History Fanatics after the semi-final round of the Innovator Showdown at the 2017 RootsTech competition. After the interview, he succeeded in capturing $95,000 in cash and prizes to continuing developing this his app to expand to iOS operating systems and searching more newspaper collections!

This app makes me want to get a phone with a larger capacity! Check out the interview on the Family History Fanatics YouTube Channel!

To learn more about the app, visit: Revgenea Software: Making Family History Mobile website at Or download the app from GooglePlay store:

Further RootsTech Conference Reading:
Family History Fanatics Videos from RootsTech 2017

3 of My Books Available During RootsTech

If you are in Salt Lake City for RootsTech, I have a stack of books available for purchase! To learn more about the books.

A Recipe for Writing Family History takes the fuss out of the first draft of your family's stories.

From Metal to Rhinestones: A Quest for the Crown is an autobiographical transformation story involving a teenager in Texas trading in rock - n - roll attire for cinderella slippers.

21st Century Family Historian lets beginner genealogists know that there is a place for everyone to do something in Family History.

Look for the nifty Family History Fanatics shirts, on my husband and I, on Thursday and Friday and you can pick up a copy of these books. If you're having trouble finding me in the ExpoHall, tweet me at @dnoellee.

If you purchase the book in person, I'll sign it for you!

That's better than Amazon Prime.

What will Liz Say at RootsTech?

Liz Wiseman, the author of Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter which taught that leadership isn't about making everyone work harder but magnifies the talents of those around them, so all achieve together, heads to the Innovator Summit at RootsTech.

In leadership training, she shares how our personal knowledge can impede our ability to lead. Her adage that 'learning how to learn is more important than what we have learned' sounds like a homeschool truism. And her work ethic platitude of 'Figure Out Your Bosses' Biggest Challenge and Solve It' are great tips to teach my children on how to succeed in the future.

What will see share with the genealogy innovators? How can they, or we, multiple the skills of resources and research to bring genealogy further in 2017? We'll soon learn!

Watch the Live Streaming on

9:00 am
Innovator Summit General Session 2017

10:15 a.m.
Industry Trends and Outlook

11:30 a.m.
Innovation: Best Practices and Applications

MyHeritage and GenealogyGems Booth Demo Schedule

RootsTech MyHeritage and Genealogy Gems Demo Schedule

As if the classes and the RootsTech Demo Theater wasn't Enough. MyHeritage and the Genealogy Gems are having booth demonstrations!!! There's a whole lot of learning going on at RootsTech!

Yesterday I posted about the wonderful demos taking place on the main Demo Theater in the Expo Hall at RootsTech. Today, you can view even more learning opportunities to through your schedule for a loop. Or, if you just haven't found the right classes that fit your needs, you can now learn from the service providers! Expo Hall Schedule
Click Image for the Full Size (more readable Image)

Genealogy Gems Expo Hall Schedule
Click Image for the Full Size (more readable Image)

Other booths have demo schedules tucked into the Registration bags. Too bad this information isn't released in advance so you could plan your schedule around all the learning opportunities with all options before you.

So, if you can't find what you're looking for on the main classes or your class of choice becomes too full, check out these mini-presentations in the Demo Theater!

Further RootsTech Reading:
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