thegenealogygirl


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Family Reunion Bingo Games!

Reunion at Lagoon 1926

Isn’t this photo awesome?!  This Family Reunion photo was taken at Lagoon* in 1926.  The family gathered are the descendants of my 2nd great grandparents Frederick William Ellis and Susan Kaziah Davis.

My family still holds three different reunions today.  They look a little something like this.

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Great Grandchildren of Ronald & Margaret

I really love family reunions but one of the main challenges is getting everyone talking to each other.  It’s easy for the siblings and first cousins, but second cousins and cousins from different generations?  Not so easy.  Everyone experiences the same silly obstacle – they feel dumb asking people’s names.  We always have name-tags available but hardly anyone puts one on.

Well, last summer I was in charge of the Rulon and Naomi Peterson Family Reunion.  Rulon and Naomi are my great grandparents.  This reunion is held every summer in late July or early August and includes 4 generations of my family.  I love to see and visit with my Grandpa’s younger siblings.  His brothers remind me so much of my Grandpa that it takes my breath away for just a minute, in a good way.

But all those younger cousins, understandably, gravitate to their grandparents, parents, and first cousins.  I wanted to shake that up and get people interacting more and remembering our family members who are no longer with us.

So, I made two bingo games that required asking people questions.  I had good prizes too.  There were lots of little party favor type prizes for Bingos like stretchy frogs, bouncy balls, suckers, lip balm, packs of gum, etc.  Then I had a few big prizes for the first 5 or so people who earned a blackout – a cool water gun, two $10 gift cards for lunch, and a few other items I’ve forgotten.  In all I spent about $90 from the budget.  And every penny was worth it.

This was the easy Bingo game:

RulonNaomiPetersonFamilyBingo

As soon as I explained the game to the first children to arrive, they instantly starting running around asking everyone the answers.  The adults who were trying to remember things, had to talk to each other about it too.  Lots of good family conversations were going on.  After several kiddos exhausted this Bingo board, they moved on to the harder game.  This one was about our deeper family history.  This entire side of my family are LDS, so you will notice that reflected in both games.

PetersonSkeenFamilyHistoryBingowoutanswers

I really loved the conversations that both Bingo games generated.  We heard some family stories and facts that I had never heard before – and that is saying something!  There was an awesome feeling during this whole reunion as we had dinner and talked, and filled in our Bingo cards.  Our focus was on our family members and we all felt their love and presence with us that night.

After dinner I wrapped things up by sharing that I had recently come into possession of a large collection of family letters including a box of letters written by Naomi.  This is a special treasure for all of us because she died very young, with one child still at home, and left no journals or personal history.  But those five years of letters she wrote to my Grandpa include so much of her heart and life.  I read this little story from one of her letters:

From a letter dated Friday, October 13, 1944, written by Naomi Peterson to Ronald Peterson:

“I must tell you about Janice and Marilyn.  We went in to Lienhardt’s to get the candy last night and when we came home Marilyn’s new robe was over the back of the chair by the telephone.  It looked wet and on further examination I found a pool of water under the chair.  This morning Janice stated to laugh saying she had never seem anything so funny in her life.  Marilyn had filled the bath tub for her bath.  She and Janice were standing by the mirror.  Marilyn says things just to make Janice angry – rather smart you remember.  Janice gave her a disgusted push and sat Marilyn in the tub robe and all.  Her feet were hanging out and her head against the soap dish.  Janice said she went in very gracefully.  Marilyn says there is going to be a big splash one of these times.”

What a treasure.  It was a joy to see everyone’s eyes light up as I told them about the letters and shared this story.  It was a great reunion with a very simple set of activities.

 

If you have a family reunion coming up, I wholeheartedly suggest you consider making your own version of Family Bingo.  Everyone loved it and they were used again at a smaller reunion for one of my Great Uncles and his family.  I also emailed copies to everyone who couldn’t attend including answers for the second Bingo card.

 

If you would like to use my docs as a starting point to make your own, here they are:

PetersonSkeenFamilyHistoryBingowoutanswers

RulonNaomiPetersonFamilyBingo

And if you are related to me and are curious about the answers, here is the copy with answers:

PetersonSkeenFamilyHistoryBingo

 

I will just add one more tip – I did not put a limit on the number of prizes.  I also didn’t worry a lot about the prizes.  The kids knew I had created the game, they would come to me and show me their card and I would send them over to choose their prize.  Some kids made a serious haul, but it kept the conversations going all night.  Plenty of adults and teenagers played too – and took prizes.  I made sure I had a Costco sized bag of High-Chews as backup in case we ran low on prizes, we did use the High-Chews and got very close to running out of everything.

 

Have you ever been in charge of a Family Reunion?  What activities have you enjoyed at Family Reunions?

 

 

*Lagoon is an amusement park here in Utah that started out as a place for bowling, dancing, and eating.  The first thrill ride was added in 1899.

 

Family Reunion Bingo Games

 


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Awaiting the DNA results

I have been learning about the various DNA test options for a few years now.  I finally felt confident enough to decide which tests to purchase for specific family members.  The RootsTech pricing was a great opportunity so I purchased 5 kits.

  • Ancestry kit 1 – For my Mom.  I chose this kit for two reasons – the price was $49 (regularly $99), and because her mother and brother have both previously tested with Ancestry.  This will allow me to compare their results and look for differences.
  • Ancestry kit 2 – For me.  I chose this kit for the same two reasons as I chose the kit for my Mom.
  • Ancestry kit 3 – For my friend who watched my 4 year old during the day while I was at RootsTech.  They have a juicy little mystery in their tree and they know just who to test.  🙂
  • FamilyTree DNA Y-DNA kit – For my Uncle.  His Grandpa, my great grandfather, is a brick wall.  I can’t wait for these results!  I have been trying to find a way through this wall for years.
  • FamilyTree DNA autosomal kit – For my Grandma.  She has already tested with Ancestry.  Her great grandfather was born in France and immigrated to America as a child.  He is also a brick wall.  Because more Europeans test with FT DNA, I am hoping to make some connections.  I also chose this company for her because they store the sample for 25 years.  Grandma is in her 80s, if I decide to retest her sample in the future I can (if the sample is still good).

I took my test and mailed it on Thursday of last week.  On Friday afternoon I got an email saying that my sample was received.  Wow, so fast!  Now to wait 6-8 weeks for the results.  Or longer.  They sold a lot of $49 tests at RootsTech, I’m guessing that their lab is a bit behind.

My Uncle’s test was received on March 8th.  We have another month or so to wait.  Won’t we all be surprised if he matches a different surname than we are expecting?  That is a distinct possibility.

I have mailed the other kits to my Mom and Grandma.  More waiting.  Hopefully they test and mail the samples very soon.

While I am waiting, I need to start studying the book I purchased at RootsTech that was recommended by Tom Jones.  He is basically a genius, so I followed his suggestion.

GGP

It is so exciting to begin a new genealogy journey!  I can’t wait to see what I can learn.

 

Happy Monday, I hope you make an awesome genealogy discovery today!

 


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Family History Magic & Involving Your Family!

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My youngest, my husband, my computer, my leg, & The Tooth Book.

Saturday night story time for my little one consisted of listening to MY Grandpa reading The Tooth Book.  This awesome moment was many years and the efforts of several people in the making.  Here’s what it took to make the magic happen:

  1. My Grandpa visited my family years ago – in the 80s maybe?  While visiting he pulled out his tape recorder, two blank tapes, and a big stack of our picture books.  He read for 2 hours.  He must have done it while we were sleeping because I don’t hear any kid noises in the background.
  2. My mom stored those tapes all this time in her closet.  When I asked about tapes of HER Grandpa’s interview she threw in the tapes of MY Grandpa reading stories.  This was sometime last year.
  3. I went to RootsTech this year, connected with Larsen Digital, they emailed me to remind me of their RootsTech special and I took my tapes to them to be digitized.
  4. When the files got back I really wanted to break those big long audio tracks into individual tracks by story so they would be more user friendly.  I asked my cousin Matt to tackle that and he did!  On the very day I asked him to help!!
  5. A few days after we got the tracks back from Matt, my husband dug around in our children’s books to find the only book we currently own that my Grandpa read all those years ago.  He sat our little guy down next to me on the couch with book in hand and finally – Family History MAGIC for my preschooler.

I am so grateful that everything worked together to culminate in this cool moment.  We have listened over and over to my Grandpa already and I hope we will continue to do so.  All of this leads me to a few very specific points I want to make.

First, asking my cousin Matt was a big leap for me.  Not because I thought he would say no or anything, just that I, like many of you, bear the responsibility of being the Family Genealogist without complaint or much hope of ever really sharing the load.  But is that fair?

When I help new genealogists who are just starting to work on their family history they often express concern that they will “mess something up” and so-and-so in their family will be upset.  Because of that they have never gotten involved before and are hesitant now.

This repeated experience has taught me that I probably have family members who would be happy to pitch in if they felt comfortable doing it and knew where to start and what to do.  When those audio files showed up in my email from Larsen Digital and I was facing an unknown task that would take me a lot of time to master, I remembered all of this and thought of my cousin Matt.

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My cousin Matt

Here he is.  He looks friendly right?  He totally is.  Plus, he has expressed interest in our family history repeatedly over the years.  AND, he happens to have an MBA in something to do with the music industry – I should totally remember what exactly but I don’t.  He lives in Tennessee and works in the music industry.  I took a stab that he would know how to split apart those tracks or would have access to someone who could teach him.

My thought process went a little something like this – “I will probably spend about two weeks trying to figure this out, get really frustrated, learn a lot of new things, and finally get this done.  OR, I could ask Matt.  I bet he knows how to do this.  If he doesn’t he can ask one of his friends.  He could probably do it MUCH faster then me.  Plus it gives him a chance to get involved in our Family History and he has wanted that in the past.”  Deep breath.  “Okay, I’ll ask Matt to help.  And be sure to give him an easy way out if he doesn’t want to do it.”

I asked.  He accepted.  And he did it lickity split, that very day.

Awesome!!

Second.  All of that hard work and effort by multiple people needs to be preserved and protected in such a way that generations of my family can have access to my Grandpa reading children’s books.  So step one was emailing my family to let them know.  Step two was inviting them to my dropbox folder with the recordings so they can download and listen to them.  And last, step three was more complicated and the most important.  I uploaded the audio files to archive.org so that there is a place online where those files will be stored indefinitely.  I shared the link on our family Facebook page, in a story on my Grandpa’s page on FamilySearch, and on his page in my private Ancestry tree that my family has all been invited too.  This way if they choose not to download the files now or lose track of them, there is a way they can find them.

Third.  This experience has caused me to reflect on how we can get our family members more involved in our Family History efforts.  I’m certainly not an expert on this but my experience with Matt and with other family members in the past has caused me to consider a few points that help lead to a moment like the one Matt and I shared.

As the family genealogist, we should create broad family interest in our history through regular, gentle, bite-sized sharing of stories, photos, artifacts, and facts about our family.  Then we need to pay attention to who is interested in what we share.  What special skills do they have and how can those skills help our family history efforts?  What is their schedule like?  How much time could they share?

This simple equation has been successful for me in the past in small ways and once again with my cousin Matt and these audio tracks.

 

Have you been able to get your family members involved in your Family History work?  If so, how?  If not, what have you tried that didn’t work?