Who Do You Think I Am?

Have you ever seen an episode of Who Do You Think You Are?

It’s a show featuring celebrities who “travel” back in time {not literally} learning about their family history.  Producers set up family historians and genealogists to help facilitate the process.  The celebrity then travels to destinations surrounding their family history.  Our family loves this show.  We record the show and watch them on Sundays together.  I find it interesting that many of these celebrities know very little about their family history.

Last week our family had the opportunity to have our own episode of Who Do You Think You Are. {Although nobody was filming us ;)}

My Grandma, my Dad’s Mom, grew up in a place known as Forest City, Iowa. {My Dad was born there.}  Over the years I remember her telling me stories about Iowa and Forest City.  After my Grandma passed away I pulled out some of the family history she gave me.  I began to read about how my Great, Great, Great Grandpa, Robert Clark, founded the town of Forest City.  He was elected Court Judge and established the county’s first store, post office and steam saw mill.  “He was a leading citizen throughout his life in Forest City and the main street of the city is named in his honor.” (Centennial Sketches, Forest City, Iowa)  “This is incredible,” I thought.  Robert Clark’s daughter, Julia married John F. Thompson {my Great, Great Grandparents.}  Julia was surrounded by over achievers and prominent founders of Forest City.  After John served in the civil war he became an attorney, organized the Forest City public school system, organized the Winnebago County Bank (first formal banking house in the county) and opened the first fire insurance agency.  In addition, this six foot, two hundred-pound man (J.F. Thompson) served more than once as Mayor of Forest City, served several terms as president of the local school board, and was a professor/lecturer on common law and civil government at Waldorf College (in Forest City) for two years after it’s establishment.  Wow.  These are my ancestors.  What a legacy.  I knew after reading this that one day I needed to visit the place my great grandparents help establish.  That day came for me and my family last week.

A week ago today we set foot upon Forest City.  Our first stop…The Mansion Museum.


Guess who built this Mansion and lived there?  Julia’s sister Cora and her husband.  It was humbling and special to see my family’s name scattered throughout the memorabilia in the house/museum.  I am very grateful for the Winnebago Historical Society.  I am especially grateful for our very gracious tour guide and member of the Winnebago Historical Society, Rosella, who volunteered her precious time.  Imagine my surprise to find a reporter from Forest City’s own Summit Newspaper taking our photograph as we peruse the museum.  Rosella understood the importance of this special trip and called the reporter.  I can’t wait to see how the article turns out in next Wednesday’s {July 13, 2011} paper!

Our journey led us to walk through Clark Street eying the old buildings.  Some are still there.  Others have been torn down.  It was completely surreal to walk where my ancestors had lived and walked themselves.  We came upon the beautiful County Courthouse and War Memorial.  I found many family member’s names on the war memorial walls.  I can not begin to express in words the depth of gratitude I felt.


A true family historian does not make a trip like this without visiting the cemetery.  This was definitely the most emotional part of the trip for me.














My Grandma left me little notes like this one below.















Of course we had to go see the place where they hiked, picnicked, ice skated and skied!


Forest City is one of the cleanest and beautiful little towns I have ever seen.  Honestly, it is the small town, USA most people might think doesn’t exist any more.  The residents were extremely friendly.  They were always eager to help and excited about our journey.  The librarian at the Forest City library helped me locate the Thompson Family book my Grandma had photocopied several pages out of for me.  I was able to look at the library’s copy and the librarian found where I could purchase a copy for myself.  I have been looking online for years trying to find a copy.  I also found two other books I had been looking for at the museum and Forest City Chamber of Commerce.  Success all around!  I am honored to be a descendant of people who truly made their dreams come true and for many generations after.

Snapshot of my Ancestry.com tree of family members written in this post about.

This is probably the longest post I have ever done and I apologize for that.  However, if you have not taken advantage of Ancestry.com, you are missing out.  It is the best and easiest way to begin your family history.  I am happy to affiliate with a company I have used for years.  Once you add a few names, Ancestry will begin to find records, sources, photos and other family trees for your family members.  I have met distant cousins through Ancestry as well and we trade information.  I highly recommend the services Ancestry.com provides for your family history needs.
Start Looking

I treasure my family,

Don’t Look Back

Source: polyvore.com via Shan on Pinterest

Treasure-Trove Thursday {Twilight Series}

First of all, let me say for all of you Twilight bashers non-likers out there, I have not written a post about Twilight in a very long time. As a matter of fact, it has almost been a FULL year!  Yep, I checked and my last post about Twilight was on June 20, 2010.  My second blog post ever written on August 17, 2008 I wrote:

In the beginning...

It’s weird to look back.  It’s now 2011 and I have seen Twilight, New Moon and Eclipse at the movie theater.  I realize the majority of my early blog writings were about this fiction series.  However, the reading of this book series was a huge turning point in my life {happened to be when I began this blog.}  It gave me something else to be excited about outside my job as a Family Manager.  Not to mention spurred my love of reading fiction to this very day.  Twilight also positively impacted friendships, strengthened my relationship with my oldest daughter and added some sizzle & romance into my marriage.  Absolutely!  Hubby has benefited as well from Twilight. 😉I realize many people are tired of it.  That is entirely fine…to each his own.  All I have to say is PLEASE don’t rain on my parade.  There is nothing wrong with enjoying a book or movie.  It has been controversial…yes.  Yes, we have freedom of speech.  However, if I don’t like something as trivial as a fiction book; I don’t go to blogs, forums, websites, Facebook or Twitter and whine about it.  We are all entitled to our own opinions.  If you don’t like the opinions expressed, then just don’t read them.  I can’t tell you how many times I found people on Twilight forums who were extremely negative.  To them I ask, “Why are you here?  This forum was created for fans of Twilight, so why would you come here and spread all this negativity?”  Honestly, after a few months of finding more negative than positive comments on Twilight forums I “bagged” them!  I was going there to talk with other fans and instead was finding the opposite.  In other words, be kind.  If you don’t like Twilight, please don’t write a comment saying how much you hate it. It is unfortunate I feel the need to write this.  Nevertheless, this is why I stopped writing about it a year ago.  Negative or rude comments will be deleted.  I know my very sweet and loyal readers would not consider doing such a thing.  However, my blog is open to all and you never know who will stumble upon here.  Enough about this.

My daughter asked me at the dinner table tonight, “Mom, have you seen the new Breaking Dawn movie trailer?”

“WHAT!?!!!!  No…{excitement and huge grin on my face} It’s out now?!”

Guess what I watched tonight?! {couldn’t wait until Thursday to share!!}  For all of you who do LOVE the Twilight series as much as I do, this is for you:

November 18th can’t come soon enough now!
Joy, joy, joy,

Grateful for my Craft Room

I have been promising photos of my craft room for a while.  I’ve been promising myself for almost 2 years!  Finally, I bit the bullet this week and focused on purging, cleaning and organizing.  {Totally helped to listen to an audio book while doing it…read how you can get one for free here.}  It feels so good.  However, I can’t promise that it will ever look this way again.  I told my youngest to go check it out when she got home from school.  “It’s too bare, Mom!”  This room tended to be a dumping grounds after we moved in.  It was a total mess with the counter tops covered in stuff.  I had boxes of various items all over the floor.

I am utterly and completely grateful for this special room.  We built a section for my kids to craft and practice their creativity.  You will see it with the small black stools underneath.  The other side of the room is basically mine.  On the left side I do my traditional scrapbooking & crafting and on the right side is my computer station.

“How did you get your husband to let you have this room?”

This is probably the first question guests ask me upon entering.  I never expected that question.  The answer…hubby spent 15 years of seeing paint, play dough, scrapbook paraphernalia and various other crafting supplies strewn all over the house.  He is very grateful to have a room dedicated for all my memorabilia as well.  It is the culmination of many years of planning.  The floor is cork, the counter tops are stainless steel looking laminate and I have filled every one of the cabinets you see.  I did not photograph the inside of all them, though.  Only a few are organized enough to share. 😉

I love seeing other people’s rooms or studios dedicated to crafting…such eye candy to behold for someone like me.  I looked at so many photos and blogs while building.  Let me know what you think, please.  Do you like?

Credit: I want to thank Jennifer McGuire from Jennifer McGuire Ink for inspiring the design of my craft room.  Jennifer is famous in the crafting world and her craft room was the inspiration for my own.  She is way more organized than me, but her thorough videos and photos helped me tremendously.  You can see her room by clicking here.

Tip Junkie handmade projects

The Girl Creative

Mom’s Can Be Good Enough

It is my honor and privilege to have authors Becky & Hollee of Good Enough Is the New Perfect: Finding Happiness and Success in Modern Motherhoodhere today for a brief interview.  They were also gracious enough to send me a copy.  I have carried this book with me everywhere…reading it whenever I have free time.  You know like when my daughter is at ballet, waiting at the doctor’s office, waiting to pick up a child from an activity, etc.{all that time adds up!}  Honestly, I knew I would love the book just by reading the title.  However, Becky & Hollee have done their research to back up their title.  See below…

Question: “Why is this generation of working mother so obsessed with perfection?”

Answer – Becky & Hollee: “We grew up being told, “You can do anything.” And many of us took that to mean, “You must do everything.” Many of the entry barriers faced by previous generations of women were gone when we entered the workforce, and we felt obligated to make the most of that. But even as we excelled in our careers, the barrage of messages about what was expected of us at home continued. The standards for maternal excellence were rising, and to lofty heights.

Our generation of moms was the first to professionalize motherhood. There would be no mistaking the contributions of at-home moms who approached their leadership in the home the same way they have handled their Ivy League educations and Wall Street power jobs. Moms who returned to work saw the standards set by their at-home peers, and a new power struggle emerged as we tried to make the “perfect” choices. It wasn’t the Mommy War we’d expected.”

Question: “Why is work/life balance such a hot topic in the news today?”

Answer – HOLLEE: “Many of the women we interviewed said work/life balance was the most pressing issue in their lives; it’s frequently discussed because the work/life dilemma has become acute now that so many dual-career couples are trying to manage demanding careers and parenthood.  Almost 5 million college-educated women in this country have children under 5; they don’t want to abandon their careers, but they don’t want to miss their children’s milestones. They were told they could Have It All and they’re doing whatever it takes to find that balance.

This really hit home for us when we conducted our survey. We were overwhelmed by the response — within 10 days of posting the link to our survey on Facebook, almost 1,000 women born between 1965 and 1980 logged on to share their stories. That says a lot about how much interest there is in the topic. We had moms from almost every state, representing every racial group and a huge variety of professional fields. We really took the pulse of American mothers at this moment in time.

Our experts believe work/life has become an even hotter topic because of First Lady Michelle Obama’s interest in the issue (and the recent White House forums). The other big reason? Work/life is finally hitting home for men; they want balance, too, and that requires each member of the family to identify their true priorities.”

Question: “What do you hope moms will take away from this book?”

Answer – HOLLEE: “We hope Good Enough is the New Perfect will be the manual that we didn’t have. Through the inspiring stories of the moms we interviewed and the experts who shared their experience, we hope our readers will learn that they don’t need to be perfect in every aspect of their lives. A lot of very successful women have achieved what they have by honing in on their main priorities and saying “enough” to the rest. Sometimes good enough is good enough. And it can be a lot happier way to go.

BECKY: And we hope it will expand the discussion about balance. Women need to feel OK opening up about these issues.”

Question: “How do I find my own New Perfect?”

Answer – HOLLEE: “I think you have to start by accepting an essential capitulation: You will not be able to do everything perfectly, and until you give yourself that freedom, you’re fighting a losing battle.

But once you do accept that, the world begins to open up to you, and possibilities that you never would have imagined begin to emerge. For example, until I could accept that it was OK to jump off of the partnership track at a law firm (and admit that it wasn’t the right fit for me), I couldn’t imagine doing anything else!

BECKY: Every woman has to define it for herself. But it starts in the same place for all of us: Figuring out what we love, and knowing what we do best.”

Many times while reading this book I felt a sense of relief and camaraderie.  I could relate to both the perfectionist “never enough” moms and the empowering “good enough” moms.  Interestingly enough, I realized while reading, I have experienced over the years my own trial and error to become a “good enough” mom.  I hope many mothers will be able to use this information to their benefit so they may save years of their life striving to do it all.  Not just for the sake of the mothers, themselves, but also for the good of the family as a whole.  Husbands and children will be happier in the long run as well.  Three cheers for Becky & Hollee!  I am thrilled to share this book with you.  It will be the perfect gift to give many of my friends for all different occasions.

I have gotten to know Hollee some via Twitter.  I love reading tweets about how she is treating her children to ice cream.  She, too, thought the Harry Potter movies were a little on the scary side.  {LOL}  There are very few people who will actually converse with me on Twitter. {Haven’t quite figured out why.}  Hollee always does and for that I am very grateful.  If you would like to learn more about authors Hollee and Becky, click here to be directed to my Books Bring Joy page.

Good Enough Is the New Perfect: Finding Happiness and Success in Modern Motherhood is available at bookstores nationwide and at Amazon by link below.

Disclosure:  Monetary compensation for this post will only be obtained by clicking on contained links and then purchasing product.

Reading Brings Joy,

Way to LOVE doing Chores

Pssssst…come here I want to tell you a secret.

Well, it’s not really a secret.

I want to share with you a great way

to LOVE doing chores.

Do I have your attention now?

Here it is: Listen to an audio book while doing chores.  I know, it doesn’t sound like any huge revelation or idea, but it works!

Don’t get a self help or non fiction book. {even though you think it would be good for you}  Get a fiction book you know you will like.  Choose from the genre you love.  If you have read my blog long enough you will know mine is fantasy. {prefer with romance, but not harlequin kind, mostly teen & young adult}

I began doing this because I just didn’t feel right about sitting down and reading a book all day.  I have way too many things to do.  But I didn’t want to give up reading all together.  Listening to audio books makes me WANT to do chores.  Seriously!  Plus, I don’t feel guilty because I’m still being productive.  I have heard people say, “I can’t listen to a book while doing chores.”  To them I say, “why not?”  It doesn’t take too many brain cells to fold clothes while listening.  If you can watch a movie or TV and fold clothes then you most certainly can listen to a book.  As a matter of fact, you are doing one LESS thing when you are listening versus watching and listening.  Most of the time doing chores is something we can do without thinking.  I hear people tell me how they listen to audio books while driving.  Honestly, if you can do this, then doing chores is a piece of cake.  Now, it might not work if you are trying to organize something {at least for me, I need to concentrate then}, but if you are washing the dishes, cleaning your home, sweeping etc.

So today I finished up listening to an audio book while working in the home.  The book was really good.  Next thing I knew it was over.  I was so bummed!  I hate when you are reading a good book…when it’s over…there’s this feeling of sadness, of let down.  This book was the second in a series.  Therefore, I feel like I know the characters really well.  Next thing you know, it’s the end, for now.  Until the author releases the next in the series.  Whaaa!

Okay, here’s the next tip.  Audio books are not cheap.  However, there is a more inexpensive and greener way than buying them in the store.  {Believe me, the CD’s begin to stack up over time}  I love Audible.com. I have been a member for over a year now.

Benefits of Audible.com:

  • Less expensive!
  • Use on ipod or other mp3 players.
  • Green – no CD’s, {you can make CD’s if you want to} listen in the car or somewhere your ipod won’t connect to
  • Listen at home.
  • Listen in the car. {I have a cord I hook up to my ipod & iphone to listen in the car} Great for commuting long distances!
  • Listen on an airplane.
  • Narrators {well, the good ones} help distinguish characters.
  • Listen to a book together as a family in the car on a long trip. Makes the trip go by much faster.  This also gives you an opportunity to create conversation with your children.  You can talk about the book together and provide a teaching opportunity as well.  Usually there is a moral to the story.  This gives you a chance to reinforce your own family values.  It’s amazing what you will learn about your children when you listen to them tell you why they think the character should do this or that.
  • New! Listen on your Kindle! {Carrie, this is awesome for you!}
  • Members receive FREE Interviews, Chapters, Short Stories and subscription to New York Times and Wall Street Journal
  • They have a HUGE selection of Kids Audio Books. Sometimes my 7 year old likes to listen to a book in bed before she falls asleep.
  • Will give you recommendations based on previous books listened to.
  • Offer Spanish versions of books.

There are many literary benefits of listening to books, especially if a child is learning to read.  Good article about this by Scholastic here.

Ready to do some laundry, load the dishwasher, sweep & mop the floor now?

Just try it and see for yourself if it helps motivate you.  I have teamed up with Audible.com through their affiliate program.  They are offering Family Brings Joy readers a 14 day trial membership with your first book being free! No time like the present!  Click on box below to take advantage of this offer.

1 FREE Audiobook Credit RISK-FREE from Audible.com

After you sign up:

  1. Please come back and tell me what book you are listening to.

  2. Tell me how your experience went with working and listening

  3. If you are a current audio book listener or Audible.com member, please share your experiences and current books with us as well.  I am currently listening to One Thousand White Women by Jim Fergus.

So excited to hear your feedback!


Since posting this Amber from My Totally Simple Life has written about her experience with listening to audio books while doing chores.  Go check it out here.

My Totally Simple Life


Tip Junkie handmade projects

Disclosure: Affiliate program offers compensation when reader clicks on above link & becomes an Audible.com member.  I was not compensated in any way for writing this post.  These are my own words and opinions.  Again, I will not market a company I don’t have a strong passion for already.  I feel this information is valuable for Family Brings Joy’s readers.

Listen on,