Have Cat; Wish Happy Mother’s Day

Some of the beautiful flowers I got for Mother’s Day/birthday…

flowers

Beautiful tribute from some of the young’ns

cat

Yikes! the CAT

cat

cat

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IMG_3531

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Grayzie enjoys being a part of everything that goes on. Party? he’s in the middle! Glass of water? He wants some, too. Container of water left unattended on a flat surface? It’s just his job to knock it over. Here, the flowers are gone, so he parks his carcass on the cards. It’s a Grayzie day! Even though he’s not a mother, and I’m not his mother, he’s not only a pet, he’s our housemate and friend.

IMG_3535

flowers

more flowers from loving progeny!

Have a beautiful, sweet Mother’s Day! Even if you’re not a mother, or have lost your mother, share the love as best you can… ❤

Down by the Riverside

Disney Port Orleans Riverside resort

Good Morning Port Orleans Riverside Resort

Continuing in the vein of “thrifty creations,” we want to craft a family vacation later in the summer that has lots of fun amenities going for it, but doesn’t break the bank. Being close to Walt Disney World, we decided to check it out although most of those options seem gi-normous-ly expensive. A tip came our way from a reliable source (DH’s sister-in-law) that Disney Port Orleans Riverside might be a good bet. So we are doing a trial run to see how the place measures up. Disney has loads of comparable resorts in the vicinity, such as Port Orleans French Quarter, Coronado Springs, Saratoga Springs, Old Key West, and many more. But one drawing card for Riverside is the less-expensive room rate (it’s billed as ‘more rural’ than the French Quarter) and another plus: the addition of a pull-down Murphy bed available in some of the rooms, which will allow more than 4 people to a room. Being Florida residents will give us a discount price, too.

After a sweet night’s sleep, we can figure out what we might want to do until check-out time creeps up tomorrow. This is a working vay-cay for us, but it’s nice just the same. Downloaded a phone app for Disney that tracks our whereabouts and shows what’s going on in any given location. Another high-tech perk: the RF wristband for breezing through turnstiles and cash registers.

Disney resort

Our room upstairs in the Magnolia section

pool

balcony overlooks a pool

There are lots of pools here. We’re here the first couple days in March and it’s 80 degrees this week. Balmy, beautiful, flowers just starting to bud. In the late summer it will be sweltering, but again, the resort offers loads of pool options. There’s water play in the form of fishing and more at Ol’ Man Island, you can schedule a Fireworks or Birthday cruise, and some may want to shell out and take a day at one of the major Disney parks: Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Wilderness Adventure, Typhoon Lagoon…so many possibilities to pick from.

Disney Port Orleans

Ol’ Man Island, a short stroll away

walkway

walkway to lobby and food court

It’s early, this very slightly misty morning and joggers are running the track, folks meandering through the scenic walkways to breakfast and shopping and connecting through various depots to the day’s itineraries. During my early morning swim in the pool, I’m in the midst of a cacophony of bird calls. Checking around to see if they might be coming from speakers mounted surreptitiously in the vicinity (this is Disney, after all) but they appear to be all real. Must be lots more birds migrating down here from the northeast, where the residents are going through Snowmageddon.

Port Orleans resort

What shall we do today?

We looked at lodging in another area of the resort.

Alligator Bayou

Alligator Bayou rooms facing pools

Ol' Man Island pool

Big pool on Ol’ Man Island (this is just a small loop of the whole huge pool)

Water taxi

Water taxi depot at Riverside

I wonder how they get the water to look so black? Did they maybe plant a dark plastic liner on the riverbed when they dug it? Do they pour ink into it on a regular schedule? You can catch the water taxi and tour around the resort, glide over to the French Quarter and partake of the famous beignets and the Scat Cat’s Club, keep on floating down to Downtown Disney…the possibilities are amazing.

Family Discovery Day at Roots Tech 2015

In addition to being the last day of Roots Tech in Salt Lake City, and Valentine’s Day, Feb 14th was also Family Discovery Day. What a phenomenal day it was! The weather was beautiful, and thousands of people turned out to participate in classes, workshops, entertainment, games and celebrity hobnobbing!

My fulfilling focus of the day was meeting and adoring a new family member. He was anxious to participate in the festivities from whatever angle possible.

Roots Tech baby

Roots Tech baby

Although Discovery Day was a free event, registration was required, so crowd control could be managed. We were given a special packet at registration, which included a map of the Salt Palace Convention Center, an agenda, a list of activities going on, and several copies of the My Family booklet to record your pedigree with the first couple of generations and get you started in Family History research.

Family Discovery Day knapsack

Discovery Day knapsack packet

The Family Discovery Day classes and activities were pure genius, as chosen for this group. Classes addressed those with leadership roles, youth involvement, finding missing people in your pedigree, making better use of programs and resources readily available. In the Expo Hall, special game areas were roped off and the Family Search booth included stations with open terminals for experimentation in several steps of goal accomplishment. A few very large screens at one end of the booth were equipped with some program features of the Discovery Center model, enabling viewers to pull up animated story lines about themselves and their family origins. Lots of free and reasonably priced refreshments were available in the Expo Hall.

Classes in the ballroom corridor were jam-packed to the point that a few of the most popular ones were re-situated in overflow rooms with delayed-release recorded video of the instructors presented on screens that were quickly hoisted into action. The corridor opened up into a huge lobby that was crammed to capacity with autograph-seekers of on-site celebrities: the cast of Studio C television show and David Archuleta, to name a few.

Keynote addresses from popular Al Fox Caraway and Olympian Noelle Picus-Pace, were in the huge Hall D. At the end of Picus-Pace’s presentation, her cute husband of one year presented her with roses on-stage for their Valentine’s Day anniversary. All together now: “Awwwww…” LDS Church leader Neil L Anderson presented a new challenge, similar to 2014’s goal of “Find” names of ancestors, with an added “Teach” for 2015. The focus this year is to gain proficiency in family history work, and then help someone else get started as well. As many shared experiences in this conference attest, young people love discovering things about their ancestors.

Neil L Anderson

Neil L Anderson #rootstech
Find, Take, Teach

Now that Roots Tech is over, those who monitor the Family Search toll-free number for calls, chats, and email questions are swamped with communications, so it’s obvious to conclude that the symposium was a great success, inspiring many to up their involvement in family history research.

The closing session was possibly the biggest event of Discovery Day, featuring LDS dignitaries and mega-star David Archuleta. I wasn’t on hand to attend that session, but the excitement and thrills of rubbing shoulders with him and the other family-centric celebrity guests in the Salt Palace, was all around!

Lovely Day 3 Roots Tech

Saturday was an especially lovely day! It was the last day of Roots Tech 2015, and would you believe that along with the Family Discovery Day crowd, over 20,000 people attended? It was unbelievable!

The keynote event kicked off in the early hours with A J Jacobs, who (I found out) happens to be my cousin (as well as everyone else’s!) Each member of the multitude who attended the session found this placard on their seat:

A J Jacobs

A J Jacobs Global Reunion


Later in the presentation we were asked to hold up our signs so he could take a selfie with all of us cousins! Jacobs is a very funny comedian and family history enthusiast who reminded me a little of Adam Sandler without the vulgarity. His presentation was eye-opening and hilarious, and his focus is currently to invite everyone to a global family reunion June 6, 2015 in New York City. Wow, would I love to participate, especially since all the proceeds from this go to charitable causes benefiting Alzheimer’s.
global family reunion

Global Family Reunion

He had the audience rolling with laughter as he showed segments of his “year of living Biblically” and his interviews with celebrity cousins. He said scientific sources say that our furthest-degree of relatedness to another living person on earth today is 70th cousin.

Next up was the appearance of the legendary Donny Osmond. I’ve never been a fainting, screaming, rabid fan of the Osmonds, but I now have a permanent warm spot in my heart for Donny after listening to his talk Saturday morning. A few choice tidbits about him that I’d never known before: 1) He went on a double date with one of his brothers and ended up stealing his brother’s date. He and that date have now been married for 38 years! 2) Despite the beautiful toothy smiles he and his siblings have made famous, his great grandmother had a scary, grouchy-looking frowny-face! 3) His two oldest brothers are deaf, and after they were born, a doctor advised the parents not to have any more children. 4) Donny is seriously dedicated to family and family history. His talk was funny, fascinating, and full of love. Why not; he is a Soldier of Love! He sang several songs for us, including “Moon River,” theme song for the Andy Williams Show, which gave the Osmond boys their early break into show business.

I didn’t quite get to any of the classes I really wanted to attend Saturday, but I had a wonderful time, overall. I got to participate in some Family Discovery Day hi-jinks and hang out with several cherished people. Thanks to everyone who made this whole experience so sublime!

Day 2 of Roots Tech (with link to sessions!)

Just a little summary of what we did at Roots Tech on the second day, Friday, February 13…
This day’s sponsor: Findmypast.com
Keynote speakers: D. Joshua Taylor (who is Family History Director at Findmypast) and his two co-hosts on Genealogy Roadshow, Kenyatta Berry and Mary Tedesco.
Laura Bush, former First Lady of the United States.

Laura Bush #rootstech

Laura Bush #rootstech 2015


And her daughter, Jenna Bush Hager, who is currently a presenter on NBC’s Today Show and an at-large editor for Southern Living magazine. Fascinating commentary from each of these popular stars in American culture and entertainment had the audience enthralled. Honestly, I came away feeling that Laura Bush, someone who is the closest thing to royalty in the US, and who has been right at the heart of some of the most shock-and-awe historical events of the past few decades, was everyone’s personal friend, neighbor, and down-home confidant. What a fantastic morning; I didn’t want it to end.

But I had to get to class and see what Roots Tech had in store to teach me.

My first class was called Impossible Immigrant, taught by Warren Bittner. It was my favorite class of the entire conference, because it spoke deep down into my heart and soul that Bittner found his seemingly untraceable ancestor from Germany, and therefore, I can hope to find some of mine, too! He presented the class as a case history, which format he tended to like as far as genealogy classes go. I liked it immensely.

Next, we had lunch with some great friends and co-workers from the mission.

We messed around in the Expo Hall, and [my fault entirely] missed the class we wanted to go to next. So we went to another class about Your Digital Afterlife, by John Wylie. By the time it was over, the crowd was growing into a crush outside, and it was a hassle getting anywhere. I heard people muttering “s’like salmon swimming upstream” en route to class more than once! So we skipped the last class of the day and went back to the room, where I hoisted my swollen ankles upward and caught up on some jet-lag induced sleep deprivation. Next on the agenda was the Cultural Event, which was supposedly an hour but we suspected it would be longer, and we were correct! We were treated to performances on the Expo Hall stage from a cowboy band, a Scottish pipe and drum troupe with adorable Highland dancers, and Chinese, Asian, and Polynesian dancers.

Peaches Bill Band at #rootstech

Back in the Saddle Again, with the Pecos Bill Band

Then we walked to the City Creek Mall and had dinner at the Blue Lemon, where we had fresh black bean ravioli, artichoke and tomato chicken, slow-braised short ribs with house-made demi-glace, and our meals were delicious–and so must have been the eventual meals of the hundreds of other diners, who were lined up waiting to get in.

BTW, if you want to view some of the sessions of Roots Tech 2105 that were recorded, you have only to go to the Rootstech.org link and click on the link “Previous Sessions” and then choose from many.

First Day of Roots Tech 2015

Roots Tech 2015

Roots Tech 2015 Kickoff


When I planned for Roots Tech this year, I had a couple of vague objectives in mind. One, I wanted to look for books that might include info on a particular area I’ve been studying, Yates County, New York, in the late 1700’s, early 1800’s. And two. I wanted to get some information on two of the new genealogy web sites I’ve joined in the past year but haven’t had a chance to fully explore. I ended up conquering both these aims and more!

It just so happened that the Thursday Roots Tech was sponsored by My Heritage, one of those web sites I wanted to delve into. The company’s Chief Product Officer, Mike Mallin, spoke, along with Dennis Brimhall, the CEO of Family Search, and Tan Le, a young Australian inventor and founder of Emotive Lifesciences. All three talks were thrilling, but Tan Le definitely stole the show, ending the keynote session with a riveting account of her family’s emigration from Asia in a boat, fleeing a repressive government and dodging modern-day pirates.

Tan Le

Tan Le #rootstech

My first class was presented by Daniel Horowitz, Chief Genealogist for My Heritage. From this entertaining talk, I learned a couple of things about the site that I never knew before. It offers 40 different languages, has features that allow you to invite people to interact in social-media-sort-of ways, and it has facial recognition technology (although he didn’t talk about that in depth). I’m excited to delve into My Heritage, and hook up with some of the renowned world-wide search engines.

Next I went to a class on brick walls in Irish roots research, presented by Rosalind McCutcheon from Irish Genealogical Research Society. She named lots of links and resources. The Roots Tech 2015 phone app made it easy to schedule everything, download the class syllabi, look up your friends who were in attendance, and keep up to date with alerts sent out to remind you to go to your chosen events. The booths in the Expo hall were better than ever! Dell sponsored a free coke vend, and the food choices included all kinds of Mexican, pulled pork on buns, deli sandwiches, and more. The sweet smell of vanilla and cinnamon crusty-glazed Sugar Bear nuts and kettle corn rolled over the convention center airspace in voluptuous waves. I passed the Italian Ice kiosk too late to get one in peach flavor, but the black cherry with vanilla custard gelato was mighty fine. And in the Expo Hall, I found a vendor and bought a book about probate records in New York during the past 350 years (including the above-mentioned Yates County!)

Later we went to a gigantic Family Search consultant class presented by Craig Miller, and learned about some upcoming new features. Family Search is a family history pedigree software platform similar to Ancestry.com, but free and it’s getting better and better all the time. The big difference between it and Ancestry is that Family Search has a global tree, everyone belongs to the same great big family. The last session of the day for me was Google Searching with David W. Smith.

One Voice Choir

One Voice #rootstech Opening Social

Before we knew it the Opening Event was upon us, a concert with the One Voice choir featuring Lexi Walker and Alex Boyé and his band. Check out the You-tube vid of their version of “Let it Go” that has had over 60 million hits.

Later in the concert, Boyé shared some of his family history and stories of his fascinating journey from Africa to London to his current home in Utah. What a fabulous, full day at Roots Tech!

A Sumptuous Prelude to Roots Tech 2015

Roots Tech 2015, the monumental genealogy symposium, is now over and I’m catching my breath to write down some of the highlights! I’ve already filled out their email summaries, giving what I thought were favorites for each day and for the whole event, but they don’t know all the background issues that made it so memorable for me.

First off, to be a Family Search missionary at Roots Tech makes attending a highly charged experience. You get a very substantial discount to register as a missionary, so the price is definitely right. You get invited to some special events the public doesn’t know about: Missionary Appreciation gala Wednesday night preceding the kick-off of the conference. You can have lunch with some of your fellow missionaries, whose names you’re used to seeing on the Skype chats but you may have never met in person. You are in close proximity to venerated LDS landmarks in temple square. You’re gifted with opportunities to chat with other missionaries from all over and share experiences. And there’s also the happenstance that you have relatives who live nearby and who have a brand new baby to meet and greet, for the first time!

Ryan Shupe Band

Ryan Shupe and the Rubberband #rootstech

This very bad snapshot is of the entertainment at Missionary Appreciation Night. Here’s a link if you want to check out the real scope of the band, which included some excellent fiddle, mandolin, banjo, bass guitar, drums and guitar.

Salt Lake Conference Center Theater

Venue for Appreciation Night

The Theater was an elegant spot for Appreciation Night. We were treated to some heartwarming words from our leaders, then the Rubberband engaged the audience with a high-energy concert. After the performance, we filed into a vast dining hall for a sumptuous buffet dinner. And then we walked back to our hotel through the magnificent winter scenes of Temple Square.

Temple Square

Temple Square, Salt Lake City #rootstech2015

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