22    Mar 20166 comments

Guest Post: Sprucing Up Your Family’s History

This is a guest post by Leslie Albrecht Huber, a genealogy writer, and speaker. She has written over 100 articles published in a variety of history and family history outlets. She loves speaking to groups on genealogy topics, particularly those focused on German genealogy, tracing immigrant ancestors, social history, and writing family histories. Leslie has spoken in over 20 U.S. states, on "Good Morning America" and on NPR (National Public Radio). Her book, "The Journey Takers," was published in 2010.

We’ve all read family histories that begin something like this: “My great-grandmother, Mary Smith, was born on June 3, 1890, in Pewaukee, Wisconsin. She was the daughter of Sarah Smith and John Smith. She had two older brothers and three younger sisters.”

With nothing story-like to them, these histories are little more than lists of details strung together in paragraph format. They may be packed full of well-researched information, but many readers will struggle to get beyond the first few pages before they find their mind wandering or their eyes drifting closed. Continue reading "Guest Post: Sprucing Up Your Family’s History" »

5    Jan 20165 comments

Create a Family Memory Jar for 2016

As one year ends and another begins, we look back on last year and try to remember what happened in our lives and in our family. Big things are easy to remember, but over 365 days, 8,760 hours, or 525,600 minutes, a lot happens. Let's start 2016 by making an effort to record those special moments we experience. A great way to do this is with a family memory jar!

What is a family memory jar? It's a glass jar or any container in which you can store family memories. It can be filled with short messages, everyday moments, photos or just about anything you want to preserve. Every item added has meaning for us, and is worthy of preserving and remembering.

(Image credit: Etsy/Mason Galore)

Continue reading "Create a Family Memory Jar for 2016" »

26    Nov 20151 comment

Thanksgiving: The holiday of travel

Thanksgiving is one of the year's busiest travel times in the United States. According to the US Bureau of Transportation, the number of long-distance trips (50 miles or more) increases by 54 percent around Thanksgiving.

Visiting friends and family is the single biggest reason Americans travel during the holidays. The visits account for 53 percent of all Thanksgiving trips. The average Thanksgiving trip is 214 miles. In 2012, AAA estimated that nearly 44 million people traveled during the holiday weekend - 90 percent traveled by car; the rest traveled by air, train or bus. Continue reading "Thanksgiving: The holiday of travel" »

25    Oct 20156 comments

DNA: Are our friends actually family?

Many of us are lucky to have close friends, who feel like family, in our lives. In recent years, genetic research has supported the theory that friends are more likely to share certain similarities in their genetic makeup.

When I was growing up, Uncle Max was always hanging around our house, chatting with my parents. He helped steer my father right with his do-it-yourself home projects, he told jokes at the dinner table, and he always came bearing little treats for my siblings and me. He visited so often that he was considered a member of the family.

I had always assumed that he was a second cousin or somehow distantly related to us. It was only when I was a teenager that I discovered that "Uncle" Max was not my uncle, but a very close friend of my parents. He had shared several stages of life with them and had essentially become family. Growing up, we were closer with Max than we were to many of our other aunts and uncles. Continue reading "DNA: Are our friends actually family?" »

21    Sep 201510 comments

Top 9 Family Heirlooms

Family heirlooms are artifacts that provide comfort and a sense of connection to our heritage. They illustrate our family histories and provide memories of our loved ones.

Passed down from generation to generation, often with a background story, they help preserve our heritage for future generations. We recently wrote about bizarre places to find family heirlooms.

I grew up in a home where many pieces of furniture once belonged to my great-grandmother. I thought that it was strange to have such antique furniture in our modern home but, as I grew older, I came to appreciate their value and the importance of safeguarding pieces that once belonged to the matriarch of our large family. Little did I know that my family was not unique and that furniture is commonly passed down in families and cherished for generations.

Here are nine of the top family heirlooms: Continue reading "Top 9 Family Heirlooms" »

16    Sep 20154 comments

The Grandma Hypothesis: Couldn’t have done it without her!

In honor of Grandparents’ Day, that we celebrated this past Sunday, September 13, here are some fond memories.

Those of us fortunate enough to grow up with grandparents understand how important they were (and are) in our lives. I grew up knowing my mother's parents and maternal great-grandmother;  my paternal grandparents had died when I was quite young, although I do remember some holiday celebrations

My great-grandmother took care of my mother when she was little, so her parents (my grandparents) could work without worry. Today, this model is still common in many cultures around the world. Both parents are often working and grandmothers (and grandfathers) are helping to raise their grandchildren.

I remember my grandmother’s visits very well, and saw my great-grandmother, quite elderly by that time, during the summer vacations. Grandma would arrive for visits laden with boxes and jars of wonderful delicacies that our mother didn’t have time to prepare. When we were little, she kept us busy and happy with painting, making pasta necklaces and pasta artwork, trying to teach us how to sew dresses for our dolls. Her legendary attempts to teach me to crochet, unfortunately, fell on hands that just didn't catch on. Continue reading "The Grandma Hypothesis: Couldn’t have done it without her!" »

15    Aug 20150 comments

Cousins: A special connection

A cousin is a relative with whom you share common ancestors. First cousins share grandparents, but all cousins share a family history bond that goes far beyond that.

If you have a really close cousin, you know that the relationship can be very special.

(Credit: Etsy)

The relationship between cousins is often a powerful cross between that of family and friends. Continue reading "Cousins: A special connection" »

8    Aug 20153 comments

Family Size: The bigger the better?

Does family size impact how happy we are?

Our ancestors often came from larger families, with at least three siblings. Today, however, the number of couples who are having more than two children is small.

A recent happiness study found that two-thirds of couples with three or more children consider themselves happy most of the time. Also, they are more satisfied with their lives and build stronger personal relationships with others. Continue reading "Family Size: The bigger the better?" »

1    Aug 20153 comments

7 Bizarre Places to Find Family Heirlooms

My grandmother was recently searching for some old jewelry of her mother's that she had misplaced. She wanted to give it to me for my birthday to ensure it gets passed down to the next generation.

She opened all the closets, searched through kitchen pots, and even behind light switches! Where did she finally find it? In the pocket of a jacket she hadn’t worn in years.

Photos, jewelry, furniture or documents can all tell us a bit of our family history and are a link to our past. Continue reading "7 Bizarre Places to Find Family Heirlooms" »

29    Jul 201511 comments

5 Things Only Middle Children Will Understand

I was the second of four siblings. Growing up as middle children, my sister (the third child) and I often joked that we were considered double-stuff Oreo filling, and therefore we were the best part of the family.

But, let's face it, it's not easy being a middle child.

According to various studies, birth order in a family can have a great impact on a child's life.

Middle children often feel squeezed between older and younger siblings and have trouble finding their place in the family. There's even a syndrome named after us!

Here are five things that only middle children will understand:

1) Always wearing hand-me-down clothes. Continue reading "5 Things Only Middle Children Will Understand" »

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