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Posted by Andy Lee Family History Fanatics is starting the DNA Recombination Project. You can be a part of it. All we need is some ba...

31 March 2017

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.

30 March 2017

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!

29 March 2017

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.

27 March 2017

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.

22 March 2017

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. 

20 March 2017

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.

19 March 2017

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.

14 March 2017

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!

12 March 2017

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

09 March 2017

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:

08 March 2017

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.

07 March 2017

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.

06 March 2017

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.

05 March 2017

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.

04 March 2017

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!

03 March 2017

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.

02 March 2017

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?

01 March 2017

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

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