Do you give yourself presents? I do!

It is tradition for me to buy myself a present each Christmas.  I wrap it and place it under the tree with a tag that says “From: Santa.”  This year I decided to tweak the tradition.  I had included in my wish list (given to my family) that I wanted a Flip Pal Mobile Scanner.  I wasn’t sure if anyone would get it so I decided to hold off on my present to myself just in case Santa had trouble finding my house.

It was a good decision.  I was able to use the coupon offered after Christmas to get my Flip Pal and it arrived yesterday.  The doorbell rang with the announcement from FedEx that the box was here.  I yelled a huge “Thank You” at the FedEx delivery man as he ran away from my over-excitement.  And man was I so excited!  It was Christmas morning all over again except this time instead of small children ripping open wrapping paper, it was me ripping open the box.
I quickly made sure that my kids were occupied with toys and coloring so I could have a few minutes to myself.  I cut open the packaging and scanned (pun intended) the quick start instructions.  I powered my newest technology tool up and scanned the first thing I could get my hands on.  It was awesome!
I have not played with the stitching software yet.  That will probably have to wait until after the kids are asleep tonight.
I have some big plans for my new Flip Pal:
1.  I want to scan all of the photo albums we have accumulated over the years.
2.  There are a lot of photos at various family member’s houses that need to be documented.
3.  A new genealogy trip needs to be planned just so I can scan stuff somewhere.
4.  I have a few ideas for art projects with the kids that can utilize the Flip Pal.
I know that my new toy/tool is probably going to be making more work for me in the long run since I will need to add labels and citations to all of the photos I scan.  I am definitely okay with this since I will have fun doing it.  Thank you Santa!

Sorting Saturday – How Do You Save Email Correspondence?

My husband is giving me a few hours today to get some genealogy organizing accomplished.  I have a bunch of emails that have been sitting in my inbox that have photos attached.  Today I am saving those photos to my hard drive and adding citations.

I have decided that I also want to save the emails in my surname folders.  I currently keep all of my email in genealogy folders in my Gmail account.  While this is available to me anytime I wish to take a look, this correspondence will not be available to others in the future if something should happen to me.  By saving the emails to my surname folders, I will also be keeping up with my new organization scheme to have everything genealogy saved to one area of my computer.

I am not sure what is the best way to save the emails.  Do I copy and paste the text to a new document? Is there a way to PD the email with the sender information included?

How do you save electronic correspondence?  I would love to hear your ideas.

Thankful Thursday – What Are You Thankful For?

Happy Thanksgiving!

One tradition of my favorite traditions occurs on Thanksgiving in my family.  Instead of a traditional grace, each person at the table says what they are thankful for.  It is always heartwarming, fun, and hilarious at the same time.

One of the best “Thankfuls” I have ever heard happened while we lived in Rhode Island.  My father was stationed in Newport, Rhode Island for four years.  My father’s cousin, Dave, and his family lived nearby in Warwick.  We were about half way around the table giving our thanks when it was Dave’s turn.  He simply stated, “I am thankful for whatever Sheryl (my mom) is thankful for.”  Everyone burst into laughter because it was not her turn yet.  We had no idea what my mom was thankful for.

To this day, when my family is together at Thanksgiving, someone always throws a “Dave Thanks” into the mix.  It has to be explained most years since we love to include friends at our Thanksgiving table.

This year I am thankful for my family, my health, the wonderful trips we got to take, in-laws that legally joined the family, my new genealogy blog friends, and whatever Dave is thankful for.

Open Thread Thursday – Newly Minted Blog Educator

Last night was the monthly meeting of my local genealogy society (Marin Genealogy Society).  The meeting was a round table where everyone brought brick walls and success stories to share with each other.

The topic of genealogy websites and blogs came up as a way to connect with others.  While I was not surprised that only a few of us at the meeting regularly read genealogy blogs, I was taken aback that many did not know genealogy blogs exist.

Many people were excited and asked how to find genealogy blogs.  I pointed everyone in the room towards http://www.geneabloggers.com/ as a great place to start.  Thomas MacEntee has set up a wonderful resource on all things genealogy blog related (including this Open Thread Thursday).

Although I have been writing my blog since March, I have not shared that information with my fellow society members until last night.  I was very nervous when I  realized on the drive home that everyone is going to go home and read my blog.  Part of my fear is that I know these people face to face.  Most of the feedback that I receive on my blog comes from other bloggers I have not met in person or family members who really aren’t that into dead people.  There is comfort in that safe place.

Today, I commit to being a blog educator.  I  pledge to put my own fears aside and advertise my blog more.  I will also talk about blogs more around the members of my genealogy society.  We need to let others know about this great community and all of the wonderful resources it has to offer.

What Ailments Did My Ancestors Suffer From?

Last weekend was not very enjoyable.  I spent the weekend in a opioid induced haze at my local hospital suffering from kidney stones.  Luckily, I had a great Urologist who performed surgery on Monday and removed those painful boulders.

One of the first questions my doctor asked was “Do other members of your family suffer from kidney stones?”  Luckily, for my immediate family members, they do not.

The question stuck with me this week.  I thought a lot about my ancestors and what types of ailments stopped them in their tracks.  Most of the medical history I have about my family has come from death certificates.  It is interesting to see what a wide range of reasons my family listed as cause of death but this is a very limited picture into their medical lives.

I wonder what else happened while they were alive.  Any broken bones? How did they cope when they had a cold or the flu.  Kidney stones?  Heart attacks that they survived?  Bad knees?  Cancer?

I will probably never know these kinds of details about my ancestors lives.  The best I can do is to document the medical histories of the living to pass their stories on to future generations.

Thankful Thursday – I am now Cousin Bait

When I began writing this blog earlier this year, my intention for the blog was to share stories with my family about our ancestors.  I did not realize that the wonderful geneabloggers community would quickly outnumber the number of family members who actually read my blog.  In fact, I think the only family members who read my blog consistantly are my mom and husband.  In fact, the blog has served a much different purpose for me so far.  Writing has focused my research, organization, and goals for my continuing hunt for ancestors.

Last week I received an email from a cousin who found my blog by googling a family name.  It was so exciting to receive that email!  I had read about other genealogy bloggers who use their blogs as ‘cousin bait’ but never thought that it would apply to me.

This person is a cousin on my husband’s side of the family and has emailed with me several times.  I cannot thank him enough for sharing his story and family photos with me.  I look forward to more communication with him and hopefully a fuller picture of the life of my husband’s great grandfather, Charles Frank Gingg.

No Longer a FindAGrave.com Posting Virgin

So I have done it.  I have posted my first photos to www.findagrave.com tonight.  As I was working on adding photo citations (and correctly filing the digital files) to pictures from a genealogy trip last fall, I randomly decided to look and see if the tombstones were listed on findagrave.com.  Sure enough, there were no photos for Dudley and Opal Mitchell who reside eternally at Memorial Park, Hutchinson, Kansas.

I am sharing this here on the blog because I am not sure that my husband will be able to relate to my excitement about posting gravestones of dead people to the Internet.  I am so glad that my mind could not stay on the task at hand (citations and filing).  It was really easy to add the photos and I will definitely be adding more in the future.  Hopefully, my small contribution tonight will help another researcher down the line.  Okay, so now that I have slid even further off track by stopping to write a blog post, back to the trenches and citations.

You know you are a genealogist when…

Last night my husband and I were catching up on some of our shows that DVR each week.  With two small children it is nearly impossible to watch some shows when they are on.  Last nights lucky winner was NCIS: Los Angeles.

The main character in the show, G Callen, has had a storyline about his family over the last couple of seasons.  What the G stands for is one of the mysteries, everyone just calls him Callen. In the last couple of episodes, most of his family history has been revealed.  He found out that his mother was killed in Romania when he was a young boy and that her name was Clara.  Clara had been born in Romania to a Romanian woman and a U.S. CIA operative after WWII.  She had immigrated to the United States with her mother after the father was killed in Romania.  Clara had been recruited by the CIA and returned to Romania as a young woman.  She had two children in the 6 years she was in Romania.  At the end of the episode we watched last night, Callen was asking his boss, Hettie, how he and his sister arrived in the United States after their mother was killed in Romania.  She replied that no one knows.  All she knew was they appeared 2 years after the mother was killed.  Callen then asked Hettie if she knew who his father was.  Hettie replied that the CIA was unable to answer that question when they tried to find out.

My genealogy brain immediately said “Well, they did not do a very good job then.  There are so many record types that they probably missed.  You don’t just have two children and leave no records during 6 years that might indicate who the father was.  I would have started with finding Clara’s address and interviewing her neighbors.  There also had to be hospital records, civil registrations, etc.  I bet they did not use the A to Z method of breaking brick walls.”

I know it is a TV show but part of me wanted to jump on the Internet last night and see what types of records are available in Romania.  I can’t wait to see what NCIS: Los Angeles comes up with down the line.  I am sure there will be some small piece of information that appears to start a story arc about finding Callen’s father.

Wedding Wednesday – Creating Genealogy

Wikipedia defines genealogy as:
Genealogy (from Greek: γενεά, genea, “generation”; and λόγος, logos, “knowledge”) is the study of families and the tracing of their lineages and history. Genealogists use oral traditions, historical records, genetic analysis, and other records to obtain information about a family and to demonstrate kinship and pedigrees of its members. The results are often displayed in charts or written as narratives.

This summer has been been very busy for my family.  My sister and my husband’s brother and sister have all gotten married in the last 8 weeks!  We are so happy for all three of them and their new spouses.  They have chosen wonderful life partners and we know that they will be very happy.

The genealogist in me is excited too.  We have been creating genealogy this summer.  All of these weddings have created a whole new set of records to demonstrate my new extended kinship.  The genealogy geek in me has asked all of our siblings for copies of their marriage licenses to add to my collection.  I need these to correctly add a citation to their marriages in my genealogy software.  I am also going to create a document for each wedding that describes the day and all of the fun details.  This will also be added to my notes for future generations to get a glimpse at what weddings were like in the early 21st century.

Motivation Monday – Ancestor Bias

Since starting this blog, I have been trying to spread the posts around different branches of my tree.  I do this so extended family will see things that pertain to them.  I want to keep everyone interested.

Unfortunately, some branches are more difficult than others to write about.  I have noticed that I prefer some families to others.  I have guilt about liking some of my ancestors more than others.

I have noticed that this bias has effected my research in a not so good way.  I have spent more time researching the families that I prefer.  The positive is I have filled in more stories and have researched more generations for these branches of the tree.  The negative is I have not filled in the stories and continued my research to further generations for the families that I don’t have much interest in.  There are stories out there waiting to be found.

My bias does not have a rhyme or reason to it.  There are just some ancestors that I find completely boring or am not so crazy about the way they lived their lives.  My Mom always tells me that you cannot change people.  You need to accept them for who they are to fully enjoy them.  So today I am making a commitment to stop judging my ancestors and enjoy them to the fullest!