thegenealogygirl


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Photograph Showcase: Christmas Eve 2011

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This is one of my all-time favorite Christmas photos.

That is my marvelous middle boy up there.  I took this photo on Christmas Eve morning in 2011.  That year I had purchased a Lego advent calendar for him.  Somehow he knew (or suspected?) that the final Lego pieces in the calendar were a Yoda Santa.  He anticipated opening that last little window all month long.

He could not wait for that cool moment!

It turned out he was right and on Christmas Eve all of that eager anticipation was fully realized when he pulled out his very own Yoda Santa.

Somehow I managed to capture that moment in this incredible shot.

Childhood can be so magical.

Preserving the magic in photos is priceless.  ❤

 

 

And just for fun, here is a photo of that marvelous middle boy with his favorite pal, my awesome oldest boy, taken the next day:

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And a rare pregnant photo of myself while expecting my darling youngest boy:

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Merry Christmas!

 

I hope you each enjoy some wonderful family time over the coming week.  I will be taking a little break to enjoy each moment.  AND!!!  We are soooooo excited to FaceTime with our missionary on Christmas day!  ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤   See you soon!

 

 

ps – I keep meaning to write a blog post about the GRO PDF pilot program and I just haven’t fit it in.  If you have any English ancestry, or English birth or death records you need, NOW is the time to order them.  They are far less expensive and you get them in just a few business days as opposed to weeks and weeks and weeks of waiting.  I have ordered many records over the last few months.  The pilot period will end very soon – they haven’t announced the date but only said it will run for about 3 months and it started in October, so time’s a-wastin’!  You can learn more about the program here.  If you have questions, ask!  I’ll try to pay attention and answer asap.  Merry Christmas!

 

 


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Lighting the World

 

My oldest son is currently serving as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in South Carolina.  He is a happy, friendly kid who loves people.  You can see it in these pictures.

Missionaries spend many hours each week serving others.  They volunteer at libraries, soup kitchens, thrift stores, local churches – of other faiths, nursing homes, and so many other places.  They rake leaves, shovel snow, help people move – mostly for strangers.  They spend two years of their life seeking opportunities to serve.

When I read my son’s weekly emails and hear about the different people he meets, the different acts of service he provides, and the lives he brightens through his love and kindness, the word proud barely begins to describe how I feel.

I have never been a missionary.  But I also seek to serve when I can.  So I love the invitation the LDS Church has issued to the world to Light the World this holiday season by serving others.

This short video introduces the Light the World campaign:

 

 

One of my favorite videos from the whole initiative is this one:

 

 

People are good.

When given the chance, we like to help others.  And while there are a few vending machines in the world that will allow you to purchase something to help a stranger improve their quality of life, most of the time we have to look for ways to serve and lift.

During this year’s Light the World campaign, there have been two small things that have been particularly meaningful for me.  The first came on Day 2.  I woke up and decided to watch the video for that day while I was still in bed.  Here it is:

 

 

One of the suggestions for Day 2 is “Consider donating to a cause that helps provide safe water to individuals or communities.”  From the comfort of my own bed, I searched for an organization that does just that.  I found that my own church has a cool clean water initiative I hadn’t previously known about.  I was able to donate right from my phone before I even got out of bed!

That simple act of service for people I will never meet, brightened my day – all day.

The second experience that has really touched me came last Saturday.  My middle son had a basketball game in the morning.  When we got home, my 5-year-old and I could hear a bird crying.  It took us a while to locate the bird.  It was a very young robin sitting in one of our trees.  Sitting on a branch near it was an adult robin.  We were worried they were hungry.  We used Google to learn what we should feed it and found some appropriate seeds to scatter on our driveway.  We didn’t have a lot, so we headed to the grocery store and found some bird seed in the shape of a bell to hang from the tree.  My little 5-year-old and his dad got some yarn and hung it up right away.

Every time I come and go from my home I can see that bell.  I know it’s such a simple act of service, but it feels especially meaningful to me.  It can be easy to miss suffering around us, but on that day, my little one and I noticed cries for help and found a way to help a small bird.

I am grateful for the Light the World initiative.  It has helped bring greater focus to my month.

And of course, I have found ways to help Light the genealogy World too!

So this is my invitation to you, for the rest of December, find one simple act of service that will help brighten someone’s day – near or far – and help join others in an effort to Light the World!

 

 

Here is my sweet missionary and other missionaries he serves with.  They created this video to invite their loved ones to join in and help Light the World:

 

 


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Photograph Showcase: Christmas 1952

 

COSTELLO Christmas, 25 December 1952

25 December 1952, from l-r:  Uncle Frank (barely peeking out), Auntie V, Grandma Deane holding Uncle C.

I love this adorable Christmas photo!

 

There is just so much to love about it.  The little Charlie Brown Christmas tree in the center of the room may be my favorite part.  It’s so perfect for my sweet little Auntie V to help decorate and enjoy.  But then there is my Grandma, squatting down, wearing peep-toe heels, holding a baby and somehow keeping her balance.  And what about that strand of pearls?  This may be the only time I’ve ever seen her wearing a strand of pearls.  My Grandma was more the hunting and fishing type.  I also love the ball toy.  My own children had two different updated versions of this same toy.  And of course, that hobby horse is fantastic!  One last little gem to point out is Grandma’s only sibling peeking in just a tiny bit from the left.

Do you have any favorite family Christmas photos?

 

 

And just for fun – here is the original scan before I worked a little PhotoShop magic:

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I straightened, cropped, edited out dust and adhesive residue, and repaired the portions that were torn away by tape.  I prefer to remove distractions from old photos.  How do you feel about editing old photos?

 

 


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Photograph Showcase: Christmas is Definitely Cuter with Children and Kittens

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I love this photo of my uncle!  This is another portrait taken by his grandmother, my great-grandmother, Hope Estelle Maffit.  I also display this photo during December.  The original was cut into this strange shape before it came to me.  It has a piece of cardboard attached at the back to serve as a stand.  You can see a bit of it peeking out from behind.  I spent a little time editing to make it appear as a full image once again.

Here is the original scan:

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Do you have any photos that could use a little editing love?  What programs have you tried?  I’m a PhotoShop purist.

 

Happy Thursday, I hope you are enjoying the December festivities!

 

 


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Photograph Showcase: Christmas Cuties

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Aren’t my aunt and uncle adorable?!

This is another 11×17″ portrait that I recently scanned.  It was taken in 1954 by my great-grandmother, Hope Estelle Maffit Duval.  I’ve been wondering if the star was crafted out of tin foil.  What do you think?

The last several Decembers this photo has been on display in my piano room.  Do you like to use vintage family photos as holiday decorations?

 

Happy Thursday, I hope you find a precious family photo to preserve and share today!

 

 


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Photograph Showcase: Seeing Grandpa Costello’s Smile

COSTELLO, John and Mary family 1950 Chritmas time

John & Mary Costello Family, 1950, Spokane, Washington

Do you see that happy Grandpa sitting front and center with one of his sweet grand-babies kissing the top of his head?  Do you see that beautiful and happy smile on his face?

Well so do I!!

 

I have seen two other photos from this particular sitting.  In both of them, Grandpa Costello is not looking at the camera.

So imagine my delight when my sister brought this photo to me.  For the first time ever, I was seeing a photograph of my Great Grandpa Costello looking at the camera and smiling.  Really smiling.  ❤

But I have to give credit where credit is due.  See that lovely, happy woman on the back row on the far right?  That is my grandaunt Barbara.  She sent my sister home with a bundle of photos for me to scan.  This little treasure was amongst them.

I am so grateful to Aunt Barbara for sharing and especially to my sister for making an impromptu visit to our Aunt.

If you’ve been reading along for a while you may remember that I discovered 7 seconds of video of Grandpa Costello earlier this year.  In that video Grandpa is definitely smiling, so this photo isn’t the first time I’m seeing his smile, but it is the first high quality photo with his smile.

I think that the important lesson in all of this is that we can’t ever consider our efforts “done”.  I’ve talked to Aunt Barbara several times over the years.  I’ve visited her in her home and interviewed her and Uncle Dan.  I’ve exchanged letters asking questions.  But this past Spring I specifically sent her a letter asking if she had any photos of Grandpa Costello that I might scan.  Because of my letter, she had gathered a small group of photos and then had them all ready to send with my sister when she visited.  Her bundle included several photos of my Great Grandpa Costello that I had never seen.  That my mom had never seen.  These photos may have NEVER made it to my branch of our tree if I hadn’t thought to ask Aunt Barbara about photos of my Great Grandpa Costello.

So, keep asking questions of your oldest living relatives.  I thought I had gleaned every detail I could from Aunt Barbara.  I hadn’t.  I wonder what else I might learn the next time I visit her?

 

Happy Thursday, I hope you think of a great question to ask one of you oldest living relatives today!

 

 

 

ps – Because only three family members in this photo have passed on, I am not labeling this photo here.  If you are a family member and want the names, shoot me an email.  I will add a detailed description of the photo in my private Ancestry tree.

 


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How I Share: Family Card Game Awesomeness

ufgc - for ggEvery year for Christmas I give some sort of Family History gift to my siblings and parents.

Over the years I have come up with some good, some mediocre, and some off-the-charts-amazing gift ideas.  My goal is always to share something about our family in a bite size way.  This past Christmas I outdid myself.

Totally.  Outdid.  Myself.

I created – The Ultimate Family Card Game.

First things first – are you wondering how I count this as a ‘Family History’ gift?  I will admit it is a bit of a stretch.  But, only a bit.  It contains some awesome history of the family I grew up in and our next generation – the adorable grandchildren.  It doesn’t go any farther back than that but I feel like this is a crucial part of Family History Love.  Plus it has my parents’ adorable baby pictures – they’re old enough that those pictures are plenty historical right?  Crickets?  Okay, they aren’t that old but still, my point is valid.

What is this game?  My version has 60 cards, 5 suits, 12 cards per suit.  Each family member is represented by two cards – one has a current picture and one has an early childhood picture.  Each family unit is represented by two family photos.  Every card has a ‘match’.  The cards were printed double-sided, in color, on high quality, thick paper.  It is smooth with a bit of a sheen.  They feel really nice in your hands and shuffle well.  Plus, I put them in a cute tin.  We use it to play: Go Fish {two card match version, much faster}, Memory, War, Slap Jack {possibly the best part of this game is you get to choose who to slap…}, Rummy, Phase 10, B.S., Old Maid, etc.

My favorite part of this game?  All the warm fuzzy family love we feel while playing of course!  Lots of ‘remember whens’ and ‘look how cutes’.  Plus it is great for the generation of young cousins who live far apart and don’t see each other nearly often enough.

My whole family loved this game.  My mom and one of my sisters asked what company I used to create it.  Best. Compliment. Ever.  I created the entire game and had it printed at a local print shop.

I have already planned my gift for next Christmas.  I set the bar pretty high in 2013.  I hope I won’t be disappointing anyone next year.

Do you give Family History gifts?  If so, what have you given?

 
 
By request, I created a listing for this game in my etsy shop here.
I am working on creating a listing that is a set of detailed instructions and files so you can create your own game.