20 August 2014

Power Scrapbooking: Borders Aren't Only for Decoration

Heritage Scrapbook layout
Heritage Scrapbook tip: Use borders

Notice the brown boarder surrounding this scrapbook layout? This is done intentionally but not necessarily as a design element. Instead, the added border has a practical purpose.

I have noticed that not all scrapbook printing companies are the same. What I mean is, not all printing companies cut their printed scrapbook pages the same when combing them into books. As such, I'll often have great variations between what allowance one company provides and what another does not.

Common advice for digital scrapbookers to place all essential elements within the space 1/2 an inch from the edge of the page. All other elements can go all the way to the edge, but consider anything 1/4 in from the edge likely to be cut off.

With this page, I have a border colored to compliment the page.
If the border is not fully trimmed off, the border serves as design role.

With this advice in mind, I like to put a narrow boarder around my pages. Anything inside the boarder should not get cut off. Anything under the boarder may. This helps me to visualize well the space I have available to me.

Some scrapbooking programs have grid-lines that you can lay over your layout creations that are not permanently attached to the design. For me, this is not enough to jump out at me, so I place my border on a separate layer in Photoshop Elements called border. Sometimes I remove the boarder before printing and sometimes I do not.

Consider adding borders to your layout for design purposes, or practical ones as well. Most often, the small border will be trimmed off.

15 August 2014

Getting Nerdy: My Ancestors and Death

Warning: My nerdy genealogists side is coming out. I have seen people create cause of death trees before. I haven't wanted to create a similar tree for reasons I can't determine. However, after writing the previous post, I was curious about something else. I wanted to know how old my ancestors were when they died. Not only that, how old was their child I'm descended from when they died?

So, I created this chart. I've listed my ancestors and their ages when they died. On the slanted connecting lines, I listed the age of the child when their parent's died. I hope this makes sense.

Age at death pedigree chart
Age of Death Pedigree Chart
After doing this experiments, it shows me how finite life can be. I had my parents long than my mother's ancestors had their parents (with the exception of Mom's mother) but not as long as my dad's family had their parents. My father's family generally lived longer lives, more so than my father. What's interesting both Robert Geiszler and George Geiszler were very heavy men throughout their life. We talk often of obesity killing folks early in life. Yet look how great-grandpa and grandpa Geiszler lived fairly long lives, despite being overweight.

Who knows what the chart will look like when I join my ancestors across the great divide? However, for the sake of my children and grandchildren, I hope to have my numbers be as large as possible.

My upcoming book 21st Century Family Historian, discussed the use of genealogical databases and other tools that enabled me to access this information in less than 20 minutes. The book will be released in less than half a month! I'm super excited. Look for it at Amazon.com on September 1st.

13 August 2014

Heritage Scrapbooking: Louise Album Recap

Thank you for following this series of posts featuring the heritage scrapbook album I made. Making the album about my dearly beloved Grannie was comforting as she passed away in January 2012. The scrapbook allows me to see a snapshot of her life in a visual format. I can share it with my children so they can remember their great Grannie.

Here is a recap of the color scheme that I used:

The digital scrapbook kits that I used:

The pages I created:

If you will give family history scrapbooking a try, remembering to focus on the photos and stories, you will be successful in preserving your family memories.

08 August 2014

Mixed feelings about a completed family tree

For some genealogists, completing their family tree when they are young means they are half-completed entries for their parents and grandparents. Why? Because these relatives are still living and the death blank can not be completed. This is a good thing. You spend your time working on the relatives starting with great-grandparents and working backward.

In my youth, I had one grandparent's blank complete as my grandpa Lew Brown had died when I was nearly 3. I was fortunate enough to have met and had a few memories with my dad's parents and many with my mother's mom. The Geiszlers were placed in a nursing home when I was in middle school. I was never able to visit them in the nursing home and they both died when I was in college. My Grannie Louise Brown lived and was a part of my life, despite the great distance between our homes (Texas to Ohio) and pre-Facebook days. She died at the ripe age of 92 and I was in my thirties. The grandparent's death date blanks were now all complete.

In the mean time, I had started a family and had two children. Shortly after meeting my second child, my father died, 10 years after I graduated high school. My children would have the commonality with me. They would not know one of their grandparents. My mother died not long ago after meeting all of my children. My oldest children have some memories of Grandpa Penny. However, the youngest two won't have many memories, if any. My ancestral family tree now has all of the blanks completed for my nearest ancestors. My children's tree have my half of their tree with completed entries. Their father's side still has their grandparents incomplete as they are living and active parts of their lives.

Louise Long Pedigree Chart
Grannie's family tree had completed death information for much of her life:
meaning, her grandparents and parents had all died before she was 17.

Since my mother died, I have felt like an orphan. Then I had a realization, that my Grannie was an orphan with a completed family tree when she was 17. She had one grandmother whom she never met because her death line was complete long before Louise was born. Her grandfather William Lester Long, owner of Long's Pharmacy in Columbus, Ohio, died when she was 5. In the 1930s, Louise would complete the blanks for her remaining two grandparents and her parents. Her Grandma Angie died when she was 11, Grandpa Smith died when she was 13, her mother died shortly before her 14th birthday and her father died when she was 17. She was more of an orphan, meaning at a younger age than I was, including the fact that her birth mother died due to child birth.

Then I thought of my mother. She never knew her grandparents, again, because Grannie's parents had died long before Mom was born. Grandpa Lew's parents had died many years before Mom was born as well. However, mom grew into adulthood and was married with two children before her father passed away. Her grandparent's blanks were completed before she was born and now she had her father's death information to add to her chart. Her mother's death blank was completed long after Mom's children were born, raised, married, and having a family of their own. Mom didn't really feel like a total orphan.

As I said, the family tree that my children will complete has all the birth, marriage, and death lines complete for their pedigree chart for their Geiszler/Brown grandparents. I'm fortunate, that this line goes back four more generations before the lines are blank because of brick walls. On their father's side, the blanks are completed when they reach great-grandparents. They are very, very fortunate with this regard.

I can not predict the future, nor would I want to. In reviewing my family tree, there are sometimes I wish a few blanks were not complete. I wish they weren't complete because that would mean those individuals were living with a death blank yet to be determined.

Working on our family history gives us many things to think about. Are there things I can learn about longevity from my ancestors? Are there things I can empathize with? Is a completed chart all there is to my family members?

When we begin look beyond names, dates, and places to complete the pedigree chart, we find the heart of family history.  Something I stress in my upcoming book 21st Century Family Historian, available at Amazon.com. The charts are only tools to guide us to the stories we can learn. So although my chart is complete, much like that of my grandmother's, the stories are going to keep me from being too sad.

06 August 2014

Things I learned about myself while scanning

I have been holding on to this post for sometime, waiting to release it when the time was right. In 2012, blogger Sarah and the Goon Squad, wrote a great piece entitled Things I Learned About Myself While Scanning Old Photos.

She featured 8 things that she learned and I loved the idea. I'm amazed that she kept her list to less than 10 things. In reviewing my list, I could have come up with hundreds of things. I'm sure that would be super boring, so I decided to cut the list off at 15.

1. I used to smile as big as my second daughter.

Devon Lee youth

Devon Lee's daughter
My daughter.

2. I have always prefer my hair long

Power of personal history

3. This perms destroyed my hair

Scanning and Personal History
Scanning and Personal History
A few years after the perm 'faded,'
and my hair was never the same.

4. I wore a lot of dresses for a girl who hated dresses. Perhaps I didn't like ugly dresses.

Devon and Robert Geiszler
Pretty dress from scrapbook.
Wish I had more dresses like this.
Not so pretty dress.
I can see why I hated dresses!

5. I didn't know much about fashion.

Devon Geiszler in Middle School
Hmm... teddy bear sweater in Texas?

6. But sometimes I had winners (okay, for the time...)

High School Homecoming
High School Senior Prom

7. I enjoyed pageants when I was just having fun

Have fun at Pageants
That's me clapping and having a great time.
My pageant winning moment
This was my winning moment!

8. I like having my pictures taken but doing it full time would not be fun.

Devon Geiszler
Devon Geiszler

9. I had more fun at activities with friends than with boyfriends.

Devon Geiszler and Joseph Buffa
High School dance with my best friend Joe Buffa.
Best dance ever!

10. I really do miss being in color guard.

Kempner High School Color Guard
Kempner High School Color Guard at camp
Blinn College Band and Color Guard
Blinn College band, me in the middle!

11. High School became more fun when I cared less about grades and more about people.

Kempner High School Graduating Seniors
The point is... I would never have enjoyed this girls if
I didn't learn the time I spent studying with the time I spent
with people. These girls made high school rock!

12. I am so glad I went to Texas A&M

Texas A&M Elephant Walk Class of 98
Texas A&M Elephant Walk Class of 98

13. I love being married to this hunk!

Andrew and Devon Lee
Andrew and Devon Lee

14. Motherhood has been the most difficult blessing of my life.

Andrew and Devon Lee
The day I became a mother for the first time.

15. I'm so blessed to have these folks call me mom. This is the best career move I have ever made.

My fabulous kids!

Hopefully, this post will inspire you to think about your story, your personal history. My upcoming book, 21st  Century Family Historian, focuses on the importance of recording your story just as much as the story of your ancestors. The book will be released on September 1st at Amazon.com


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