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Discover How to Create a Family History Book

Writing Journal

Your family history is like no one else’s, so why not record it for later generations? Genealogy books have been created for decades by those who want to keep their family memories alive. These dense volumes are packed with data: birth dates, obituaries, marriage certificates, and more. But, there are tons of ways to add your own flair to showcase your family’s true personality. In this blog, we take your through the process step by step. Learn how to create a family history book, and then get started today!

Planning the Book

When composing your family history book, you’ll deal with tons of facts and figures. Therefore, it’s a good idea to plan ahead. Consider checking out a few books from the library or look into genealogy software to make the process a little faster. Then, think about how you’d like your book to look. Standard paper sizes are easier to work with and cheaper as well, but you can customize your book however you’d like. Consider playing around with fonts and colors for a personal touch.

Recording Text

It’s important to keep names and dates straight, but your personal history book is much more than a simple timeline of events. Go further with your content by conducting interviews with your relatives. Maybe you know your grandfather grew up on a farm, but what were his favorite hobbies? What was his proudest achievement? As you speak with your loved ones, Have the Talk of a Lifetime to take a deeper look at their lives. Check out the Talk of a Lifetime website for additional tips!

Utilizing Data

In some case, you may find charts and photographs can convey what simple text cannot. Why not add a family tree to show the connections between each relative? What about adding a few pictures of your parents’ wedding? As you go through this process, don’t forget to keep a rough draft of your index. Keep track of which relatives are mentioned on what pages, so you can easily find information later.

Finishing the Book

Once you are finished, it’s time to admire your hard work! Print and proofread your text for accuracy, and once everything is perfect, print out a final copy to share. This makes a perfect gift for family reunions, holidays, anniversaries, and more.

Celebrate Sister’s Day in August

Sisters with Camera

If you have a sister in your family, then start preparing for summer festivities in August! Sister’s Day is the official day to celebrate your sibling, and it’s the perfect occasion to catch up. This celebratory day falls every year on the first Sunday in August, so make a note in your schedule to keep that weekend free! Not only is this a great time to spend time with your family, but it can be the ideal time to really dive into important conversations with your sister. Find out a little more about this holiday below, and you’ll have plenty to talk about this on this special day.

Planning Activities in Person

Sister’s Day only rolls around once per year, so why not plan something special for your sis? If your family is in the same town, a casual get-together can be a wonderful way to spend an afternoon. You can plan something as simple as coffee or as elaborate as a spa day for two. No matter what’s on the itinerary, you’ll love creating new memories that you can treasure forever.

Sending Your Love from Afar

What if you live far away from your sister? Sister’s Day can be a great time to reach out. Modern technology makes it easier than ever to reconnect with those that you love. Send a quick email or text to show how much you care, or use the hashtag #NationalSistersDay to tag your sis on social media. You can also try sending a greeting card in the mail or an e-card with just a click! You could even Have the Talk of a Lifetime over video chat!

Showing Your Support

Above all, Sister’s Day is a day to celebrate your deep bond with your sibling. This is a great time to let your sister know that you are there for her, through good times and bad. We recommend taking some time to have a long conversation about issues that matter the most. Ask your sister about her hopes and dreams, her greatest achievements, her proudest moments. Ask her how she’d like to be remembered by future generations, and what kind of impact she’d like to make on the world. Sister’s Day is the perfect time to Have the Talk of a Lifetime. Browse our site for additional questions, including a free workbook if you need help getting started. You’ll strengthen your bond with your family, while learning valuable information for the future.

Take the Month-Long Memories Challenge

Holding Clipboard

Do you ever wonder where the days have gone? In today’s hectic world, it’s easy to get lost in the hustle and bustle of everyday life. That’s why it’s so important to take a few minutes each day to reconnect with the things you truly care about. But, how can you remember to do this? Consider making time in your schedule for the Month-Long Memories Challenge! This fun event will challenge you to dedicate a little extra time for yourself and the ones you love and fuel your conversations when you have your Talk of a Lifetime.

Just how does it work? Every day, you’ll find a new prompt to inspire a trip down memory lane. By the end of the month, you’ll have revisited tons of memories that you may have forgotten! Though you can treat each prompt as an exercise in self-reflection, you might have more fun while comparing answers with friends and family. Why not have The Talk of a Lifetime and find out a little more about each other? You can strengthen your bond with your loved ones, while ensuring that they will be remembered fondly for generations.

Questions of the Day

Below, you’ll find a full set of questions to guide you through the Month-Long Memories Challenge. Remember: Each prompt is just a starting point! Feel free to dig a little deeper into each question, or make up your own prompts to personalize the challenge. Have fun!

1. What is the earliest memory that you can recall?

2. What was your favorite food as a child? Has it changed over the years?

3. What are some of your earliest memories from elemantry school?

4. Describe your favorite memory with your family.

5. What do you remember from your first day of elementary school?

6. What was your favorite birthday? What happened that made this day special?

7. What is your favorite memory of summer?

8. What do you know about your family’s history? Have you ever tried genealogy?

9. What was your dream job when you were a child? What about now?

10. What was your favorite outfit as a teenager?

11. What is your proudest achievement from school?

12. What was your favorite song in high school? Do you still know the words?

13. Did you attend prom? Why or why not?

14. Who was your biggest influence as a teenager?

15. What do you remember from your last day of high school?

16. How did you feel when learning how to drive? Did you pass your test on the first try?

17. Describe your very first car.

18. Did you ever keep a journal? Do you know where it is?

19. What were the biggest trends when you were in high school?

20. Who was your favorite teacher? What made them stand out?

21. What causes are important to you now? Has this changed?

22. Find your favorite picture of your family and describe each member in one word.

23. What is the best concert that you’ve ever attended?

24. What is your fondest memory of the wintertime?

25. What was your favorite movie when you were younger, and what is your favorite movie now?

26. Describe the earliest memory of your grandparents.

27. If you could go back to any restaurant that you’ve ever visited, where would you go and what would you order?

28. How did you meet your best friend?

29. Have you lived through any historical events?

30. What is your favorite memory of this year?

31. What memories do you hope to make in the future?

Top Five Ways to Create Family Memories

Crafts Image People are busier now than ever before, so it’s important to truly cherish the time spent with your family. However, it can be tricky to find new and exciting ways to build your bond. Luckily, we’ve assembled the top five ways to create family memories that you’ll remember for a lifetime! We wouldn’t be surprised if these memories are brought up when you have the Talk of a Lifetime with your loved ones.
  1. Create a Family Scrapbook This family-friendly activity is a great way to spend a rainy afternoon. Everyone can contribute something fun to the family scrapbook. The kids can pick out their favorite pictures and arrange them on the different pages, while adults can write out the captions. This is a great time to talk about your favorite moments as a family, so you can enjoy more great memories in the future!
  2. Take a Trip Everyone deserves a vacation, so why not bring the whole family along? Whether taking a day trip to a national park or planning a tropical getaway, there’s nothing like seeing the sights with your family! Ask your family members about their dream vacation spot and keep track of when everyone is free. You just may find yourself packing your suitcase sooner than you think!
  3. Try a New Activity Is there any activity that you’ve always wanted to try? Ask around and see what your family says. Maybe your sister has always wanted to go ice skating or your Dad would love to try sailing. Make a list of all the answers that you get and circulate the list to your family. Pick an activity, and schedule a date! Don’t forget your camera!
  4. Give Back to the Community Volunteering for local organizations is a great way to bond with your family while giving back to the community. Consider helping with a local food bank around the holidays or volunteer at a 5k fun run on a weekend. Brainstorm to figure out which charities and causes matter the most to your family. You might be surprised to learn what values you have in common.
  5. Schedule a Night In Sometimes the best memories with your family are simply spent talking. Arrange a night in with your family to reconnect over a meal, and let the conversation flow. This can be the perfect time to have The Talk of a Lifetime, so you can really learn how your family members want to be remembered. Download the free Activity Guide and participate in the games and other fun activities within the guide!

Learn All About Collecting Heirloom Recipes

Recipes Every family is full of unique culinary traditions that are well worth protecting. One way to honor these memories is collecting heirloom recipes. This can be a wonderful way to reconnect with the ones you love, while creating a resource that future generations can enjoy as well. Sharing favorite recipes can also be an excellent starting point for having the Talk of a Lifetime!

Gathering Recipes

Think back on your favorite food memories from childhood. Do you remember grandma’s freshly baked cookies during the holidays? Did dad’s secret barbecue recipe cause a commotion every summer? Make a list of your favorite foods and reach out to your family members for more information. They’ll be happy to know that their recipes stood the test of time! Of course, the directions and ingredients list are crucial, but it’s also fun to get a little bit of history about each dish. Who created the recipe? How long has it been in the family? You just might get a lesson in genealogy while creating your family recipe box! This can also be a great time to have The Talk of a Lifetime, so you can get to know your loved one even better.

Assembling Your Collection

After accumulating a stack of recipes, think about how you’d like to display them. Are you creating a recipe box for your own personal use, or would you like to create a resource for the whole family? Here are a few suggestions to present your collection in a personal way.
  • A classic recipe box is a simple and easy way to showcase the family recipes. Use a stack of index cards to write the recipes or create your own custom cards with acid-free paper. Don’t forget to decorate the box!
  • Why not make a family cook book for the holidays? You can easily upload text and photos onto the computer and print out multiple copies for the group. For a personal touch, you can even try your hand at scrapbooking.
  • Consider going digital by creating a blog or website, dedicated especially to the family’s recipes. Email your friends and family to share the link, and you can introduce tons of new people to your favorite dishes!
Download our free Activity Guide and write down your favorite recipies in the Recipie Corner section on page 16!

Do you feel lucky?

Cowboy

I grew up with Clint Eastwood and I loved his movies. He was a man of few words. Whenever he did speak they became famous lines in Hollywood history. One of my favorite was: “Go Ahead and Make My Day”. I believe he used this line in every one of the Dirty Harry movies! He used it when he wanted to get his point across in a not so subtle way.

Behind the scenes and in the engine room of a company, family, or a group of friends there is often times a fair amount of stress. Humans can get demanding and short tempered. They often say things in the wrong way and not in a way that could be taken in a kind and loving way? I know you can fully relate that life is often unfair, stressful and has its share of anxiety. I know that I would often like to whip out the line of old Clint and say to a nagging customer, family member, or friend: “Go Ahead and Make My Day”. Then give them the stare and then spit!

But guess what… we could do that but we would soon be putting up our going out of business signs, filing out those divorce papers, or sitting the basement by ourselves. In reality we learned that the world is full of conversations that we should have, but don’t. More often than not, we bite our lip, we shut up, we shut down and we just buck it up. The paradox of this process is that we become trapped in a false life where we don’t have authentic relationships. We are all too often called to take the high road. We dig deep and muster every level of civility we possibly can. Why? Because we should and it is what Mom wanted you to do! Yet.. the little man or woman inside our head wants to scream.

“Have the Talk of A Lifetime” requires that we explore the dynamics of authentic communication. We must learn how to digging deeper into more meaningful relationships with of our family and friends and still be respectful of the emotional baggage that surrounds and often inhibits the communication process.

In our book “Dance with the Elephant”, my co-author Duane Kuss and I, introduced what we called the four pillars of building a solid foundation in human interaction and communication:

  • Respect

  • Trust

  • Desire for Growth

  • Confidentiality

Respect is something that our society is losing very fast. I often feel that Clint Eastwood may need to dust off his saddle and ride back into town. We need to learn how to be more authentic and yet be respectful. It seems everyone is too darn busy shouting their opinions from the mountain tops to listen to anyone anymore. You might find our points interesting and helpful in your daily personal and work life to help you in a small way on this journey:

  • Everyone is entitled to their own opinions and feelings.

  • You should always try to use active listening skills.

  • Try to always gain clear and accurate understanding of the other person’s point of view.

  • Try to be as optimistic and positive as possible.

  • Be willing to invest your time and energy to improving the life of who you interact with.

When you think about it, respect means that you have the desire and ability to recognize value, worth and virtue in others. I don’t think it is mathematically possible that you can have people respect or trust you, if you don’t respect of trust them.

“Have the Talk of A Lifetime” requires respect and action. You have to be willing to engage in conversations that are deeper than the superficial ones. You need feed the desire to want to have a stronger connection with those you care about.

The secret principle throughout human behavior is that we become what we think about. If you surround yourself with negative people and you focus in on negative thoughts and feelings; you will manifest that “negative” reality. If you surround yourself with positive people and focus on positive thoughts; you will manifest a positive reality. In short, your life is often times in direct proportion to your focus.

I will be in my basement watching Clint Eastwood movies… your welcome anytime. Go ahead and make my day! Do you feel lucky… well do you?

Reckon so!

The Dude

Learn the Steps of Building Strong Family Relationships

Houses Family comes in many different forms, but all families are enriched by love and respect. However, relationships are constantly evolving. If you want to work on building strong family relationships, it’s well worth the time to reconnect with your loved ones and reinforce that bond with good communication techniques. Here are a few tips and tricks to strengthen your family ties, while learning more about each other.

What Makes a Family Unique?

Not only does your family share a long history together, but your shared values provide a vital sense of community. Having the Talk of a Lifetime can help you learn more about these common experiences and can reveal a lot. Maybe you share a love of sports or a fondness for classic movies. Or maybe you belong to a common organization, like a religious group or philanthropic club. Take some time to discuss the similarities that your family shares and explore why these values are so important to each member. This can be a great opportunity for older members of the family to take on a leadership role, introducing the younger generation to the family’s core values.

What Habits Promote Good Relationships?

There are plenty of great habits that can strengthen the bond between family members. Here are few to keep in mind:
  • Show your appreciation for family members to remind them how much you care. This could be as small as a nice compliment or as large as a surprise birthday party.
  • Communicate your thoughts with care. Family members should go into every conversation with an open mind and an open heart, even when dealing with difficult topics.
  • Spending time together is a wonderful way to maintain a healthy relationship. Whether watching a movie or sharing a meal together, these activities can provide terrific memories for all involved.

How Can I Share my Family’s Legacy?

Every family is unique, so it’s important to remember your bond in a meaningful way. One way to do this is to have The Talk of a Lifetime with your family members. This activity allows each member of your family to speak about the treasured memories and lifetime milestones that represent their identity. What types of questions can you ask?
  • Who are your role models of the past and present?
  • What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
  • What is your proudest achievement in life?
Consider downloading the free Activity Guide to get your Talk of a Lifetime started at your next gathering! Take the time to have The Talk of a Lifetime, and you may be surprised by what you discover about yourself and others! For more inspiration, download our free workbook for additional guidance.

My Uncle Paul

Cross And Stone

Three weeks after we buried my Dad in 2011, my uncle had a massive heart attack. We were fortunate to be able to get him to the hospital in time to save him but not before there had been significant damage to his heart. That being said, he continued to live a very good life, exercising at rehab three times a week even after the initial period was over and he enjoyed all the times he spent with us at dinners, parties, weddings and weekly visits. 

Paul and I had the “Talk” many times. All he wanted was to be cremated with nothing! No viewing, no autopsy, nothing. I would chuckle and say, if you die in an accident, you will most likely have an autopsy and if you are cremated, someone has to see you to identify you! I continually reminded him that he was being selfish and that we were the ones that would need to be able to mourn him as a family! 

Many of his friends were dying, several of them choosing cremation too. Many had full visitations, Masses with casket or urn present and the majority had small family gatherings afterwards to continue to celebrate a life well lived. He would always tell me how nice it was, and I would remind him that this is what we were going to need as a family when his time came.

He finally conceded that we could have an invite only Memorial Mass that might be held at a small chapel close by, we could bury him in our family lot, and we could have a small gathering. We talked about urns, and I bought some catalogs over so he could find something he liked. He loved Davis Whitehall’s Urn, the Halia. It is a beautiful urn that has a pebble and ripples on top, simulating a pebble being thrown in water creating ripples symbolizing all the things that he had done during his life over the years. The urn was special to me because when I was younger, he and my Uncle Don taught me how to skip pebbles in Lake Erie!

The day I took him to the hospital for a procedure on his leg for a blockage last December, he walked me around the apartment showing me where all the important papers were…he must of had a premonition, but I thought he was just scared. I assured him all would be fine.

The procedure went great but the aftermath of the medication, complications and care, took him in a little over a week. He was awake, alert and one of my family was with him most of the time. None of us, including him, thought he was actually going to die. We shared some very good conversation and laughs with him, but he made us promise, no heroics. He was not afraid to die. His death was a shock for everyone but for me, I had the peace of mind because I knew what he wanted done. I was so glad we had the “Talk of a Lifetime”. 

The final decisions would be up to his siblings, my Mom and Uncle Joe, as they were the next of kin. As we discussed the options at the funeral home, all was done according to his wishes with two exceptions. We had a private family viewing and he was bought to Church in a casket for Mass of Christian Burial before his Cremation. It was a beautiful day and at the small gathering afterwards, we all celebrated Paul’s life enjoying each other and sharing so many memories. My cousins played guitar and sang his favorite song, “Blue Suede Shoes” along with a song they wrote specifically for him, “Up Yours Pal!” There is no way he could have been angry with how we celebrated and remembered him.

The following day we took him to the cemetery for burial and the urn was placed in the urn vault. Each of the family members received a pebble with his name on it to remember him. It is something I will cherish forever, just like the Chaplet made from my Dad’s roses by my friends at Commemorative Rosaries. Each of my family has one and for us, these are a small remembrance that although not physically here, they are always with us.

Sometimes it is hard to start the conversation, but it is so worth having…right Uncle Paul!

Celebrate Best Friends Day by Having the Talk of a Lifetime

Couple together

Best Friends Day only rolls around once a year, so celebrate in style with the ones you love! This year on June 8, take the time to reconnect with your best friends. Not only is the perfect day to chat about the past and present, but it can also be the ideal setting to discuss your future by having the Talk of a Lifetime.

Reaching Out

No matter how close you are to your best friends, it can be difficult to make time in a busy schedule. Luckily, modern technology presents us with more options than ever before. You could always call your friends on the phone for a life update, but video chat services add a visual component to the traditional phone call. Show off your new home renovations or your latest haircut, even if your best friend is miles and miles away.

Of course, you can reach out in more traditional ways as well. Send your best friend a greeting card or present in the mail on June 8 to commemorate your friendship on this fun holiday, or send a virtual e-card in mere minutes. These thoughtful reminders are great ways to show your appreciation, even when you can’t meet in person.

Celebrating Life

Once you’ve made plans for your coffee date or phone call, there’s no doubt that you two will have a lot to discuss. From career updates to family news, best friends can talk all day about their lives. But this June, why not go a little deeper? The Talk of a Lifetime is a way to reflect on your own life, while finding out more about your best friend as well. How do you have the Talk of a Lifetime?

Get comfortable! Set up a cozy spot in the living room, walk along a quiet trail, or find a relaxing place where you can talk freely.

Ask each other questions about life. What is your best friend’s proudest achievement? Who was their favorite mentor? What was the most valuable advice they ever received? These open-ended questions are great ways to encourage introspection.

For more inspiration, consider bringing along resources. Download a free workbook or consider Talk of a Lifetime conversation cards to keep the conversation flowing!

Creative and Functional Ways to Honor a Loved One

Quilt

After a loved one passes, it’s important to find ways to keep their spirit alive. But, not just any homage will do. If you want to learn creative and functional ways to honor a loved one, then read on for our recommendations. From thoughtful keepsakes to inventive projects, there are many thoughtful ways to honor your friends and family for generations. Having the Talk of a Lifetime now will help you creatively honor a loved one when they pass away.

Display Unique Mementos

Framed photographs are wonderful keepsakes of those you love, but there are many other mementos that can remind you of those passed. Handwritten letters and postcards are beautiful pieces to display. Try framing your favorite letters from friends or engrave your parent’s signature on a charm. You can also think creatively when displaying keepsakes. Did your Grandmother love to bake? Frame a piece of her apron as textile art. Was your Dad a master angler? Display a few lures under a framed portrait. These displays can really highlight the personality of your loved one in a unique way.

Repurpose Objects

If you inherit a collection of unwanted items, consider thinking outside the box to find a great use for them. Let’s say your Grandfather left you a box of pocket squares. Why not sew them into a tapestry for the living room or create a colorful quilt to brighten the bedroom? Not only can you reuse textiles, but ceramics as well. A few pieces of the family china can be reinvented into wall decor, delicate planters, or even cake stands. If the dinnerware is beyond repair, consider breaking the china into pieces to make artwork. The whole family can have fun creating mosaic pathway stones on a sunny weekend.

Utilize Technology

Technology has allowed brand new ways to commemorate your loved ones. Even after they have passed, you can integrate friends and family into your present memories. If you’re tech-savvy, try editing clips from family weddings throughout the generations. These multimedia projects can be wonderful presentations during family reunions and other special get-togethers. You can even use these tools as a jumping off point to Have the Talk of a Lifetime. These conversations can help you connect to your loved ones, while learning how they would like to be remembered in the future.