Got a Minute??

You are probably expecting part two of Creating A Family History Scrapbook (postponing till next week) ~ but I thought I might do something a little different in light of this coming Thursday. What is happening this Thursday, you ask?

Thursday, the 2nd of May is the observance for the National Day of Prayer. Wouldn’t it be interesting to find out what others think and/or believe about the subject of prayer?


Do you know people who pray? Do you pray? Have you ever had your prayers answered? Does prayer really work? These are just a few questions of which I would love to hear the current general public’s opinion (or at least some of my readers). Will you indulge me?

Thanks for taking the time to add your input. Check back in a few days to see what type of results have been registered. If you aren’t already following “She Loves to Write”, just add your email to the subscribe section of the blog page (right side). I appreciate your interest and have a great week! Gerri 🙂

Create a Family History Scrapbook!

Beautiful Day!
It was an amazingly gorgeous day!  It was warm and sunny, and a Saturday to boot!  We decided to sit out on the patio of my mom’s favorite diner, a place where she’s allowed to bring her dog, Barney.  497784860_4fc2bd7843
My daughter and I set our lunch date with Grandma to hear more about her family and consequently fill in the rest of our family tree.

Fun Project
With my last article “Coming to America” fresh on my mind (along with all of the wonderful responses from my readers) and a desire to vary the blog offerings a bit, I thought it was a good time to introduce a DIY (Do It Yourself) project that would incorporate all three. Read on and see if this is something you might like to do with your family…

Create a Family History Scrapbook!
Some of us slide pictures into pre-cut plastic sleeve pages. Others, the “uber-creative”, are completely familiar with die-cuts, fancy stickers, thCAHSR5OAacid-free products and ‘all-nighter’ assembly parties. Whatever the case, why not incorporate a beautiful, creative scrapbook with a bit more thorough approach to recording your family history?

Let’s Get Started…xxxphotofamily

Whether it’s your five year old son or your ninety-five year old grandmother, you absolutely can start documenting things about their life! Having said that, I thought I’d try my hand at creating a basic template, a fill-in form that could serve as a guideline for obtaining information, or can be used as is for the scrapbook.

Grandma Stella

Grandma Stella

My goal is to create a well-rounded picture of each person, so that those who come after us will have a good sense of who we are (or were, as time goes on). There are several questions listed, but by no means

My daddy and his first born (me)!

My daddy and his first born (me)!

do they all have to be answered. They can even be changed to whatever you like, I merely added what I thought might be interesting to know. There are forms for living family members; adults, teens and children, as well an additional page for overflow. I also created a special sheet for those that are no longer with us.

Adult Histories
1. Find someone or create a “team” from your family at large (preferably lovers-of-history) to do the Q & A for your tribe. You may also give it to the subject woman thinkingdirectly if they prefer to answer the questions themselves. Ask them to give you pictures that they’d like to have scanned and put into their page(s) for the scrapbook. Click on the links, take a look…

Family Fun History Project Doc Sample

Family Fun History Overflow Page

Family Fun History Project Doc Sample Dearly Departed

2. Notice the places for pictures and captions. You may upload pictures, type in your data and print the document out for a professional and polished-looking family recording.

Kids and Teens…
I put together a different form for children and teenagers to fill out themselves, if they’d like. How fun would it be for them to update it each year? hooray kidYou’d be able to see their progression of growth in their own words, and they might enjoy it too. Let them choose the pictures they’d like to use and/or let them record themselves via their phone  – they’re already doing it anyway! You can put it all on a cd and include it in the scrapbook – more on that next week Take a look at these links…

Family Fun History Project Doc Sample-kids

Family Fun History Project Doc Sample-teens

Go For It, Let’s Have Some Family Fun!
Why not have a go at this? It can make for fun family learning time, and provide opportunities to catch up and visit with relatives not seenFamily Walking In The Park or talked to for a while. Try it out, and then next week, I’ll show you part two; offering ideas about putting it all together!

My daughter and I plan on visiting with our entire family within the next couple of months christmas tree– little do they know – they’ll be receiving some family history scrapbooks for Christmas!   Am I inspiring you??

Part Two Coming Next Week!
Thanks again for reading,   Gerri  🙂

Coming to America

He was there every day, without fail. He stared, searched, and yearned to see anything on the horizon that resembled a passenger ship. The dock workers knew him well for they’d grown accustomed to seeing him. Every time a different vessel came into port, they observed how new york seaporthe’d anxiously find his way to the front of the disembarkment area and eagerly, yet with care, scrutinize each woman and child’s face. The men at the dock would look to see what would happen next. Did Michael find who he was looking for? Or would he return again, to repeat this ritual? Most often, they would see Michael’s shoulders slump and his head fall – a man who stood silent yet strong. He would no doubt be back again they thought, for he was a man on a mission.

This is the story of my great grandfather and his family, at least as I imagine it went, based on stories I was told. His name was Michael and he was Ukrainian. He had met and married, Alexandra (also Ukrainian) and had two daughters, Stefania and Doris. They lived in Buffalo,

Michael, in his later years

Michael, in his later years

New York and were happy there, for a time. “That’s Michael,” one dock worker would tell a newcomer, “His wife and daughters went to visit family in Lviv, Poland.” I’m sure that bit of information on any ordinary day would not garner much notice, but in this case – the family in question had been gone far too long and with reason to worry.

A Visit Back to the “Old Country”
What started out as a month long visit back to the “old country”, turned into an unimaginable drama. World War I had just broken out, and Alexandra and her two daughters found themselves unable to

War in Lviv

War in Lviv

return home as planned.  Correspondence became unreliable, and as war often produces many challenges, this would not be any different.  Michael would be waiting for them at their predetermined time of return, but they would not be there.

With Stefania about three years of age, and her sister just a few years older than that, Alexandra needed to remain calm, protect her girls and try to figure out a way to get home.  I’m sure that getting a letter or a telegram to her husband was of the utmost importance – for there were no modern conveniences like email, fax machines, readily available telephones or cell phones.  I believe the year was 1914, and things were very, very different then.

A World Turned Upside Down

Michael continued to go to the docks every day. What had happened to his family? He checked his mail constantly for a letter and he waited for a telegram.  He asked friends and family if they had heard anything.  Nothing.  What was he to do?  Did he questionknow about the war? Did he know that Soviet troops had captured the city of Lviv in September?  The trip that was to take about a month had now lasted for over a half of a year.

I can’t begin to imagine what living under militaristic enemy rule would’ve been (or be) like, but my great-grandmother Alexandra would soon find out. Similar to what we’ve heard of as “The Quartering Act” during Revolutionary War times, the citizens of Lviv found themselves, (or at least Alexandra did) having to take in and house an enemy soldier.

Alexandra was young and attractive, and “single”, or so it appeared. It was only by quick thinking that she would escape the advances of an aggressive soldier who had recently made her home his. Rushing to pick up Stefania, she secretly pinched her as hard as she could. She made her daughter cry, she made her scream! The soldier was relentless, but Alexandra would continue to pinch her daughter very hard, sotearful toddler that she could say, “My daughter needs me! I must tend to my daughter! Listen to how she cries!” Thankfully – this worked, and the soldier retreated.

Living in Two Separate Worlds
I assume that both Michael and Alexandra were living in their own private hell. Without any word going out or coming in from the other, blog stop watchwhat were they to do? Time would continue to pass. One year would turn into two, three, four, five, six, and for whatever reason – money, inability to communicate, continued issues of war – Alexandra, Stefania and Doris had not been able to return home.

I’m sure my great-grandfather grieved greatly. For all he had known – his family had died in the war or had become lost at sea.

Life Goes On
Michael eventually remarried and started a new family. He had a daughter named Olga. But it wasn’t long after that, news would come that would be supremely bittersweet.

Amazing News!

From top clockwise: Doris, Stefania and Alexandra

From top clockwise: Doris, Stefania and Alexandra

Alexandra, Stefania and Doris were alive!  They would finally be returning home, and very soon!  I can’t begin to fathom the joy and distress that he must’ve felt at hearing the news.  He married another woman, he started a new family.  He was elated that his first family was alive and well, and would be seeing them soon,  but what was going to happen now?  What was he supposed to do?

Wait a Minute…
You may be wondering where I am going with all of this. The idea for this article came to me last week while at the funeral of my Uncle Bob. I thought it was important to share and as you read on, I’ll tell you why.

Some of My Thoughts…
First, I think history is great. I love it. Family history is even more amazing, because it is ours! We all come from such varied backgrounds and have really interesting stories to tell.

Secondly, I’d like to encourage you to spend quality time with your grandparents, aunts, uncles, parents, etc. now. Make it meaningful grandma grandpa moshenko wedding dayand take the time to ask some important family history questions. Appoint a scribe or family historian, someone to document information and take pictures and film. Learn your family history while you have it available to you. If your kids aren’t that interested in it now, they will be later.

Thirdly, consider what impact we can have on those that come after us. What treasures of learned experience or fun stories do you have to share with the younger ones?  Make memories with an eye toward the future.  Keep a journal of thoughts about yourself and the world around you. We may not all be fans of history or genealogy, but we do bring something to the table that completes the big picture. Think about it.

But What About Alexandra, Stefania and Doris?
Michael made the decision to remain married to his second wife. Though their relationship was stressed for a time, Michael, Stefania and Doris reconciled

My grandma (Stella) and me

My grandma (Stella) and me

and continued a relationship. He grew closer to Stefania (who changed her name to the popular American “Stella”) as she married and had children of her own. Stella married John Daniel (see sepia-toned wedding photo above, left) and gave birth to five children; John, Bob, Joan, Terry and Richard (Tim). I am the daughter of Richard. I have many wonderful memories of my grandma and have included a picture of her and I together from the early nineties.

In Closing
I hope you enjoyed reading some of my family history. If you have a story that you’d like to briefly tell, I invite you to share it. I would LOVE to hear it!

As always, thanks for reading. I appreciate your interest!

Gerri 🙂

The Power of Encouragement

There I was, the typical teenage girl; complete with braces, curly hair (before the days of flat irons) and an average dose of youthful shyness – away for a week of my first-ever summer camp in beautiful Lake Arrowhead.  Promising to be an enjoyable and significant time, I’d signed up to go with the youth group I was attending.  I swam, attended challenging times of teaching, played games and had a blast making new friends. The refreshing pine-scented air inspired me and I found myself glad to be there. When dusk turned to darkness at the end of the first day, I ventured to my assigned cabin, along with the eleven other girls I would room with.

“Okay, ladies, let’s get settled in. I have a special activity I’d like for us to do as soon as you’re ready.” Linda, our counselor announced.  Little did this first-time, summer-camper know, the “activity” that was about to be launched – would be something I’d remember forever.

Here I am, standing next to my camp counselor, Linda!

Here I am, standing next to my camp counselor, Linda!

What a Great Idea!

Linda handed out several sheets of paper to each of the girls in the room.  We were instructed to write down the first name of each girl, one per page and take a few moments to think about them; what qualities/traits stand about that person? What do you like or admire about them?  I think you can see where she was going with this.

After careful reflection, we started quietly writing.  As each girl finished and looked to Linda, we waited patiently for the next bit of instruction.  “Now, we’re going to start reading them to each other, one at a time.”  She chose someone to start and around the room it went.  Overall comments included things like, “I really love your attitude,” or “I think you are a wonderful friend” or “You’re a very kind person,”  “I think you’re a great artist,” “I love the way you do this…” and so on.


Multitudes of beautiful, positive and warm remarks filled the room.  It was a regular love-fest!  It became obvious that this “activity” had touched every one of us in a very meaningful way.  As a result, there were some tears, a few healing discussions to clear misunderstandings, friendships that grew ever closer and new bonds formed.  It felt incredible when I heard the words written for me, and this uplifting moment has stayed with me since.  It showed me that positive, encouraging remarks – whether we realize it or not, are important and can produce short and long term benefits in every one of us.

What is Encouragement?

Oxford American Dictionary and Language Guide defines it as 1) to give courage, confidence or hope 2) to urge or advise 3) to stimulate by help, reward and/or to promote or assist.

Why is it Important?

My summer camp experience showed me that these words boost our confidence and make us feel on top of the world.  They kick self-doubt to the curb, strengthen our will to persevere, and ultimately, help us feel cared for and supported by the encourager. Everyone, regardless of age or gender benefits from positive reinforcement.  Have you ever noticed how someone’s facial expression softens after they receive a compliment?

I think we all know this, but it’s worth repeating; no one benefits more from encouraging words than our children.  We know that our remarks greatly affect them – good or bad.   In fact, I’m not sure we realize how much power we really have!   I try to consistently encourage my preteen daughter because I want her to grow into adulthood with a healthy, balanced dose of confidence and self-esteem.  I acknowledge when things don’t go as expected, and try to inspire her to use it as something to grow from (this is my hope).   We all – parents especially, have the ability to build a person up in a positive and productive way ~ or tear them down in a negative and destructive manner Our words can communicate love, acceptance and support to our children or make them feel like they aren’t measuring up.

May I encourage you?

Think about opportunities in your life?  Who are the people that surround you?  Is there someone that could use a little encouragement?  What do you admire or respect in them?  What do they do well or are improving in?  What do you appreciate about them?

Last but not Least…

When you offer kind, optimistic words to others, they may come back to you in return.  I’ve seen it happen!  In my experience, when you practice being the encourager, you find that your enthusiasm attracts like-hearted people. You’ll find yourself in good company that may produce rewarding relationships.

 Thank You

There you have it; you’ve read my first blog offering!  My hope is that you will find inspiration, food for thought, and especially encouragement in what you read here.  I welcome your comments and appreciate the time you spend at
She Loves to Write.

The Whole Gang-Summer Camp 1981!