Wednesday, September 27, 2017

I am NextGen!

I'm pleased to announce that I was selected for an interview with The NextGen Genealogy Network for the Faces of NextGen! You can read all about it here! The NextGen Genealogy Network is doing great work connecting with and highlighting young genealogists! You can find out more at

Friday, September 22, 2017

Family Traditions with "Deddy"

Today we continue our Family Friday series about Family Traditions! Many of you have been asking when "Deddy" would do another video, so here he is! He was nice enough to step in due to a schedule conflict :-) I enjoyed the interview and he did too - he even said he would do some more videos! There are three parts to the interview because we had to keep changing recording devices (oh, the joy of electronics)! I started to edit them but decided to keep them the way they are - bloopers and all! Enjoy! :-)

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Friday, September 15, 2017

Family Traditions with Tamar

What are a few family traditions you remember as a child?
My grandparents' home being the center for gatherings like Thanksgiving and Christmas. Our family has never been formal. So, I would also say that another "tradition" was to accept anyone who just randomly walked right into their house. Back then the front door was never locked. Our home was close to Main St. Like I mentioned, people never knocked. I don't even know if my grandparents had a key. You just walked right in. As an adult, that is something I would be comfortable with. But in the late 1980's-1990's, that's what you did if you didn't feel like calling someone.

Do you know who created those traditions and how they were started?
I would have to guess my grandmother or Joe as she preferred to be called. My grandparents had seven children. She never let them call her mother. She always said she was too young for that. That was her humor. She let me call her momma or Joe. Everyone else was strictly Joe. The home they resided in and raised their children in for over 25yrs was a home that was given to them by a relative. Just imagine having about 3-4 children at that time and someone just giving you a house? This occurred in the late 1950’s/early 1960’s. A beautiful home in a predominately middle-class African-American area. It was just customary to be that neighborly.

What was your favorite family tradition? Do you still observe this tradition today? 
It was just the togetherness. Having an opportunity to just be around all my cousins was a really fun time. 

You are one of seven half siblings. How does having half siblings impact your family traditions?
My mother’s only other child, my half sister, is different than me. Just imagine one of us being Tom and the other Jerry as children. We looked nothing alike and acted completely different. As adults, we have gotten better at understanding each other's strengths and weaknesses. She helps me and I help her - wouldn’t trade her for the world. The story of my father's side is a bit different. Most of my life I thought that if I just could make my birth father acknowledge my presence, then I could finally feel like I was worth something. He’s always included some children and not others. Growing up I always thought I was a throwaway kid; that something must be so wrong with me that I was not worth it. So, there were a few embarrassing attempts to get him to just acknowledge me. As a kid, I thought to be apart of his family's traditions would make me whole or even a better person. Over the years finding out about other siblings made me think "Ok, where do I fit in?" because the children continue to add up. When I first moved back to KY, I started reconnecting with some of my half-siblings I was aware of. In doing so, I found out and connected with siblings I never even knew existed. The number of half siblings has grown to more than seven. Once I had my children I wanted them to know their only living grandfather. I decided to go out of my comfort zone to show that I blame him for nothing anymore. I tried to make him feel as comfortable as possible so that he could just be a grandfather. It wasn’t until recently that I finally had to realize that even if I paid him one million dollars he still would not care.  With all that being said, some of my half-siblings do attempt to connect, and we do try to hang out or talk and start our own family traditions. That’s what I focus on with my half-siblings - that we try to do fun, happy, and encouraging things together.

Have you and your siblings blended your respective family traditions/celebrations or have you all created your own together? 
This year I decided to try AncestryDNA. I wanted to know what my genetic makeup was. I also wanted to start a family tree to see where it would lead. In doing so, I found tons of relatives on my father’s side. They have been nothing but warm and welcoming. They invited my children and I to an upcoming family reunion. It just solidified that as much as it would have been nice for my father to have included my family in such events, he is no longer the key to this larger group of relatives.  So, to answer your question, my siblings also may connect with this new found extended family. It’s a win-win all around.  

What traditions/celebrations have you all blended or created together?
We are still new at the bonding thing. Some siblings just aren’t interested. I have had to accept that. But we try to go on sibling outings. Stuff that lets us all hang out together and enjoy each other's company because we all don’t live close to one another. 

Does having a large family change the way you view family? If so, how? 
Yes, I want my children to know & understand the significance of having a large family. For myself a good family structure equates to grounds for positive stability.

What are some core strengths you have in place to help keep such a large family balanced? 
I was a person that kept to herself and wasn’t much of a social butterfly. For my children’s sake I have attempted to start getting out of my comfort zone, so the AncestryDNA was one thing. Ok, now I needed to reach out to people. In doing so, I’ve made some meaningful connections. I want to continue with that. When my children think of their family as a community. Being proactive sometimes is a struggle for me, but it’s something I’m willing to do for my children and for myself.

What family tradition is most important to you? 
The tradition of always creating an opportunity to congregate and be together. You may not get to see your family all the time, but to have those special moments that create memories. That’s what I remember about my childhood. I want them to have similar experiences. 

What are some favorite sayings or expressions used in your family? How were they created? 
My grandmother, Joemma and my great-grandmother, Louella, were very feisty women. So, sometimes if someone is saying or doing something that reminds us of those two, we start calling that person by their name for a while. Everyone has a good laugh, and sometimes it starts a discussion on some of the things we miss about them.

Do you have any family heirlooms or keepsakes? Can you share a little about the history and memories connected to those items? 
Overall, my family hadn't really kept anything over the years, but there are a few items. I wear my grandmothers wedding ring on my right hand. It was given to me 20 years ago. I believe some of her furniture and a few pictures are at various relatives houses. I hope to teach my children the importance of preservation. Especially as African-Americans, you need that to help you connect and also never forget where you came from. 

If there is one family tradition you would like your children to continue, what would it be?
Understanding how true the statement that "knowledge is power". You can say it but does a person actually get it?

Describe what family means to you 
My family is my heart and soul. To have one means so much to me because it’s not something everyone has or sometimes even wants. It’s something that I am thankful for.

"I am originally from a small town in KY. I was raised by my grandparents, William & Joemma

Sanders, until they both passed away in the 1990’s.  Throughout my life, my father lived in that same small town I had once resided in as a child; no further than a stone's throw away, as absent as could be. By this time, some of my family had migrated to Georgia, including my mother who had a total of 2 children: me and my half sister. I spent around 10 years living in various cities in and around Atlanta. After college, I moved to Chicago. I loved everything about the city - I just couldn't afford it. Seven years ago I was passing through Kentucky. I was single with no children and had no idea where I wanted to live next. A few weeks turned into a few months. Seven years later with two toddlers, I guess I’m staying here longer than I had planned. I’ve recently started an online boutique "K’Rena Bhails" which is the nicknames of my children. It’s a hobby right now, but I hope to one day turn it into a full time career. It’ll feature positive phrases and images that encourage black excellence. I wanted to start something my children would be proud of."

Friday, September 8, 2017

Family Traditions with Gaynell Brady

What are a few family traditions you remember as a child?
One family tradition I remember is the celebration of Mardi Gras in New Orleans. Every Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, we would get up at 4:00am to make our way to uptown New Orleans. We would meet up at my maternal great Aunt Eva's house to celebrate and to share family stories. My mom is one of 15 children of Delilah and Willie Landry. Every child, grandchild, spouse, neighbor, and "unofficial cousins" would gather to walk down to watch the Mardi Gras parades. This tradition has lasted over 40 years.

Do you know who created those traditions and how they were started?
To my understanding, uptown New Orleans is the place where my maternal grandparents met and were reared. My Aunt Eva's house was directly down the street from the parade route. It was understood Mardi Gras by Aunt Eva and Halloween by my Grandma Delilah. My maternal side was very matriarchal, so I would think the women decided we would meet by the elders for their pre-selected holiday. My maternal grandma's birthday was on Halloween.

What was your favorite family tradition? Do you still observe this tradition today?
My favorite family tradition was started on my paternal side. Every Sunday is Family Sunday. My dad would take us for rides to our ancestral home, on riverboat cruises, or building a swing in the yard. It really didn't matter what we were doing, we always did it together. I still honor this tradition by observing Family Sunday with my children.

You mentioned that you grew up with 25+ aunts and uncles! What was that like? How did they impact the traditions observed in your family?
It was pure hell!! Hahaha! As a kid, I couldn't get away with anything at school or in the neighborhood. Everybody knew my paternal and maternal family. They would run and tell my grandma or parents before I got home and they would be there waiting to attack me (you know what I mean).

Did growing up in a large family change the way you view family? If so, how?
Yes, I see family as the very first educators. These are the people who mold and shape your future. All of the branches of my family tree can be thanked for their contribution for my growth and success.

What are some core strengths you have in place to help keep your family balanced between work, school, and home life?
I always observe family time and I always put family first. My children are the CEOs and COOs of my company. I have four little bosses at home. I teach them to be involved with the family business and we help each other with school, work, and other projects.

What traditions and celebrations has your family created?
Celebrating Mardi Gras by Auntie Eva and Halloween by Grandma Delilah.

What family tradition is most important to you?
Family Sunday

What are some favorite sayings or expressions used in your family? How were they created?
My maternal Grandma Delilah used to say she was going to "chill the shit in our ass". Growing up, I didn't quite understand what that meant but judging by her facial expression, you knew to stop doing what you were doing.

Do you have any family heirlooms or keepsakes? Can you share a little about the history and memories connected to those items?
Regretfully, I do not have any family heirlooms or keepsakes.

If there is one family tradition you would like your children to continue, what would it be?
We will continue Family Sunday and hopefully the next generation will carry the torch.

Describe what family means to you
Family means everything to me. All of the evidence gathered from conducting genealogical research and oral history illustrated family was a top priority and key tool for survival on the plantation. I am grateful for the sacrifices made by my ancestors.   

Gaynell Brady is a mom of four kids ages ranging 1 year to 20 years old. She is a doctoral candidate at Capella University. Her dissertation focuses on teaching and interpreting slavery to children. She started Mammy's to preserve the memory of those who sacrificed their lives to nurture the community. Her website is Gaynell's family has lived in Louisiana for over 200 years. 

Friday, September 1, 2017

Family Traditions with Kimberly Hilson

What are a few family traditions you remember as a child?
I grew up with such a unique mix of traditions; very southern traditional on my mother's side like Sunday Dinner at Grandma's after church, and my father’s side of the family was very eccentric so we kicked off the start of every summer at Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia. We did a day in the life in Colonial times. It was actually very fun. They were huge history buffs, so that was kind of their favorite thing.

Do you know who created those traditions and how they were started?
Dinner at Grandma's was something that just always was passed down from family Matriarch to Matriarch.. My Mom's oldest sister is the current host now that my Grandmother is no longer living. Williamsburg was started by my Father's parents in the 1980's and it went all the way until the early 2000's until they were no longer able to travel.

What was your favorite family tradition? Do you still observe this tradition today?
My favorite tradition is one that I have now with my husband’s family. We celebrate as a family on Christmas Day, exchanging gifts with each family member complete with a giant dinner and games. We spend the entire Christmas Day at a loved ones home and for the last 3 or 4 years it’s been our home. I just love it! It’s a very special occasion and we look forward to it each year.

You and your husband are raising a family of six kids ages 9 months-15! What is that like?
It’s busy! We are a blended family. I had 2 kids from a previous marriage and then we had 4 together - including the recent addition of twins! I say now that having six kids is not for the faint of heart, but it’s also so rewarding. Not to mention you are never bored with 8 people in the house.

Has having a large family of your own changed the way you view family? If so, how?
Yes, completely. Now I find myself thinking about the generations to come and the possibility that I could have a ton of grandchildren lol's also made me take a hard look at what's important in life. When you have a large family you truly nestle into a sense of selflessness .You are stretched in an incredible way and you become way more patient. I actually surprise myself on how calm I've become considering my home can resemble functional chaos at any given time.

What are some core strengths you have in place to help keep your family balanced between work, school, and home life?
I would say quality time is our strength right now. Just doing nothing. With the addition of the twins one of the things that instantly changed was our need to be still...and we've really embraced that with Pajama Pancake Saturdays and a completely lazy summer. We all pile up in my bedroom and laugh and talk and watch documentaries. That helps us to stay focused on us continuing to move as one unit.

What traditions and celebrations has your family created?
One my immediate family has is that my husband cooks us breakfast on Sunday mornings before church - every single Sunday since we've been married.  It's breakfast then church. We've only skipped that if we are traveling. Another is one that our extended family has created, is a New Years Eve/Day breakfast. We attend what's called "Watch Night" service at our family church then we go to a relative’s house for breakfast and everyone stays until the sun comes up. It’s like 40-50 people up all night eating, talking and planning family vacations all on this night. It's like an annual family business meeting.

What family tradition is most important to you?
I think right now it's our Sunday tradition. The world is changing and companies are going to 7 day schedules so just being able to have that Family + Worship time consistently is very important and is hopefully laying some great foundations in our children.

What are some favorite sayings or expressions used in your family? How were they created?
Our most used is asking someone if they want "Big or Tiny" in regards to the amount of whatever they are requesting. It was started by my 2nd oldest daughter; when she was 3 or 4 she always requested juice or food in that serving size...It just kinda stuck with everybody and she's 14 now lol...And yes we are all aware that we sound crazy saying "pour me big please" lol, but its our thing.

Do you have any family heirlooms or keepsakes? Can you share a little about the history and memories connected to those items?
Yes, currently I have a few items mostly the normal stuff - a platter from my Grandmother, etc. But two that are still heirlooms in the making are a pair of Oshkosh overalls from my oldest niece (she's 21 now) and each baby between my sisters 3 children and my 6 have worn them. The other is a dress that all the little girls from my husband’s side of the family have worn. That dress is special because it was one of the last dresses his late Aunt purchased for her middle daughter before she passed away. I didn't meet her but I heard she was quite the fashionista and the dress is very pretty and timeless. Magically each girl in the family can fit it starting at about age 7 or so and it's been holding on for about 15 years now and gone through 5 or 6 girls so far.

If there is one family tradition you would like your children to continue, what would it be?
Hopefully they will keep the tradition of coming together as a family weekly. I know that life will change for them but hopefully their connection to family will stay strong and wont be limited to holidays.  I hope that they feel a desire to stay close with one another.

Describe what family means to you
Family to me means Love/Hope. Having such a large family, it has really centered me to be able to think about what is really important in life and that is the ability to recognize the presence of love and being willing to pursue it. It really is the thing that motivates everything else. Just simply loving one another and enjoying what can come from that.

Kimberly has been married for 10 years, and is a SAHM (Stay at home mom) of six children ages 15, 14, 9, 7, and 9 month twins. Her blended family resides in Stone Mountain, GA. In her free time she enjoys all things domestic. She is currently on a quest to master the art of sewing. You can get to know her more through Facebook.

Monday, August 28, 2017

The Road to Recovery

Some have wondered where I've been for the past couple of months, because I haven't really been active on social media and my work and updates came to a screeching halt. Well...I recently had a major surgery and had been recovering for those couple of months. I had a family member ask if I would blog about my ordeal. I told her I may mention my absence to my followers but that I wouldn't blog in-depth about my ordeal. Just know my surgeon was a God-send; the surgery went well and I was able to have a smooth recovery - God is good! I'm still building back up day by day but overall am doing well. I'd like to thank my family for my 'round the clock care during that time. To those of you who knew why I was out - I thank you for your love, prayers, and well wishes. I also thank all of my followers for your patience and understanding as I work to get caught up. 

NOW, I'm ready to get back to work! So stay tuned because we are picking up where we left off with the "ABC's of Genealogy"! I also have some exciting guests lined up for Family Fridays in September and October to talk about Family Traditions and Childhood Homes. Don't miss it!

Friday, July 7, 2017

Vintage Postcards

Family history is always around us. I found these postcards from the 1950's and 1960's sent by my aunt and grandmother. And check out the postage! :-D I shared these with my aunt and she said she had forgotten all about this trip. I'm still puzzled about the postcard from my grandmother, because from all accounts she only traveled once in her life - to Georgia! Apparently she didn't like to go anywhere outside of her neighborhood. #MadamAncestry #FamilyFriday #familyhistory #1950s #1960s #vintage #postcards #travel #memories