Charm Necklace – Yakira

my Yakira charm necklace

In Gift Idea #35 I mentioned the charm necklaces I’ve made for each of my puppies in training. With Yakira’s graduation this weekend I thought it would be a good time for a post focusing on her charm necklace. Each charm is symbolic of something about Yakira.

The main charm on her necklace is a tiny treasure box. This was inspired by her name has Hebrew origins and means precious, dear or costly. We keep precious things in treasure boxes so I thought it was a good representation of her name.

I also have a letter “Y” charm to go along with her name and because I’m hoping to have just one puppy in training for each letter of the alphabet. Each of my puppy’s charm necklaces has something for their first initial.

Each necklace also has a heart because of course we love each puppy dearly.

Another common feature of all the puppy charm necklaces is a spot to put an additional charm while they are in training. Yakira’s now has a star representing that she is in class with her new partner. During the training stage, I have a charm with a number on it to represent the phase of training they are in.

I also put a charm on each necklace to represent their birthstone. Yakira was born in August so I have a green bead for Peridot.

Yakira has two more charms. One is a hand mirror to represent her beauty and the other is a horse. When she was still quite young we took her with us to the mountains to cut down our Christmas tree. Compared to her size the snow was rather deep. But Yakira was determined to make her own way. She got cold once and after warmer her on my lap she was ready to go again. From that early experience I knew that she was a hard worker. The horse charm reminds me of what a little work horse she is.

I have found that these necklaces really help me when it is time to send each puppy back to Guide Dogs for the Blind for their formal training. I think the same would be true for family members who are far away for school or work etc. or they have passed on from this life. I enjoy the process of finding the charms and assembling the necklace and then wearing it until their graduation. Saturday after graduation I will take off this necklace. Then the cluster of charms will be added to a larger necklace with the charm clusters from all the previous puppies. This necklace I where when we go to pick-up a new puppy from the puppy truck or the airport. I hang this necklace by my desk so I can see it any time I want to during the day.

all my other puppy charm clusters

Do you have someone you want to make a charm necklace for? Or do you have a similar tradition that helps you when loved ones are no longer near?


I’m really enjoying Brandy’s series of storytelling with family history in mind. I can’t wait to really dig in and apply what she is teaching us here. There is so much here that I’ve not really thought through in the way I need to and want to in my own storytelling attempts. Thanks again Brandy for sharing your expertise.


Brandy Heineman

In this series, we’re talking about how to craft your genealogical research into engaging stories to share with family.

  • The first post covers the facts, clues, and in-between bits that form the backbone of your story, and you can find it here.
  • The second post discusses the character, conflict, and cost of your story, which you’ll find here.

Today we’ll look at how and when to end your stories. We’ve all had the experience of hearing or telling a story that seems to go nowhere. My sister occasionally ends her stories by saying, “And then I found five bucks.” It’s her funny way of saying, “I’ve got nothing else for you here,” but a well-planned conclusion will help prevent your stories from falling flat.

The Resolution: What It Is and Why It Matters

The natural arc of a story takes the shape of exposition, rising action, climax and resolution…

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Book of the Week – “Take Paws”

When I found this book while looking for this week’s choice, I couldn’t resist it. It combines great photos with a simple but powerful words. It is a pattern that could inspire a great book about one of your family stories. The preview only shows the first 15 pages but it is enough to get a feel for the book.

What do you get when two dog-loving ladies put their minds together? A heart-warming tale of course! (Pun completely intended!)

Liz Bradley of Elizabeth & Jane Photography and Laura L. Benn of Pawsh Magazine have brought their love of storytelling and dogs together in a gorgeous 56-page photography book, entitled Take Paws: Whiskered Wisdom About Life & Love. Specially designed to give back to the dog community, this book promises that for each copy sold until March 31st, 2013, $4 will be donated to Humane Society International in an effort to make a difference in the lives of pets in need.

Take Paws is a narrative interpreted through canine expression about slowing down and appreciating the fleeting moments that make life a wonderful, ridiculous and unexpected adventure. The tone of the book, although powerful enough to inspire adults, is also simple enough to be enjoyed by children, especially little ones who have a best friend with four legs and a waggy tail.

Come face to face with a moving collection of photographs that showcase genuine canine personalities and portray a fresh whiskered wisdom about life and love.

Take Paws by Laura L. Benn

Mary Book – Text

Mary and her mother in England

Here is my current text for the children’s story book about my great-great grandmother, Mary Taylor. It has come a long way but I want to revisit it after Brandy Heineman finishes her series on storytelling for genealogists. I’m sure her posts will help me make the text for my book even better.

Grandma Mary, will you tell me a story?

Of course, Irene, what story would you like to hear?

Tell me again, Grandma Mary, about when you were little, like me.

OK, I’ll tell you. I had a happy childhood. My grandmother would tell me stories too. I was an only child because my sisters and brother died when they were tiny babies. I was rather delicate when I was young and I was raised on milk tea. Close your eyes, Irene, and imagine you could travel back in time to when I was a little girl, just your age.

I grew up, far away, across the ocean in England, in a cozy village with lots of beautiful Elm trees. That is why we called it Coton-in-the-Elms.

But Grandma Mary, that sounds like there was cotton in the trees. I don’t see why that was the name of your village.

Irene, in the English way of speaking coton means cottage or little house, so Coton-in-the-Elms means cottage in the Elm trees.

Grandma Mary, tell me about when the missionaries came to your village.

Oh, Irene, that was a glorious day. I was just a little older than you when the missionaries came. They taught us about Jesus and Heavenly Father’s visit to the Prophet Joseph Smith. We also read more about Jesus in the Book of Mormon. My family believed what the missionaries taught and we were baptized in a nearby river.

Was the river cold, Grandma Mary?

No, it was July when I got baptized and the water felt good. Plus I felt all warm and happy inside. It was the Holy Ghost telling me I was doing the right thing.

Grandma Mary, tell me about how you learned to make such beautiful dresses.

When I got older I learned to sew from my uncle who was a tailor. It took me a long time to learn to be a dressmaker. I was lucky because when I met, and then married, a handsome young man named William Upton, I could make my own wedding dress.

William and I dreamed of going to Zion far away from Coton-in-the-Elms in America. In Zion they were building temples to the Lord and we would be with many other saints. Plus we could hear the Prophet speak the words of God. Sometimes the people were mean to us because we had joined the church. But we didn’t have enough money to go to Zion.

Then, Irene, a most wonderful thing happened. The Prophet Brigham Young came up with a plan to help Mormons like me and my family go to Zion for less money. We would pull handcarts, instead of needing horses or oxen to pull wagons. So in May of 1856 me and my family sailed with lots of other Mormons on the ship Horizon from Liverpool England to Boston in America.

What was it like on the ship, Grandma Mary?

Well Irene, it took many days for us to sail across the ocean and some days the seas were rough making everyone seasick. There were more than 800 of us going to Zion so it was crowded. We kept busy sewing the tents we would soon be using as we crossed the plains and we sang songs. The children played as quietly as they could but with so many people it was often very noisy.

As we got closer to America, the ship was surrounded by thick fog. We were scared because we couldn’t see, but all the saints prayed and the fog parted just in time for the ship to avoid an iceberg. The fog closed around the ship again but there were no more icebergs and we were safe.

What happened, Grandma Mary, when you finally got to America?

I remember how excited I was when I finally stepped off the ship in Boston. It felt so good to be on solid ground again, yet our journey to Zion wasn’t over yet. We all climbed into train cars that had been used for cows to get to Iowa City. It wasn’t very comfortable but we were moving toward Zion.

One night when the train was stopped a mob of angry men surrounded us as we slept. They were mean and wanted to hurt us because we were Mormons. The Lord blessed us and the mob left without hurting anyone.

Another night in Cleveland, Ohio, there was a fire. That was scary too, but the saints helped to put the fire out and everyone was safe.

Tell me about after the train ride, Grandma Mary.

By the time we got to Iowa City and the end of the railroad tracks, it was really hot. We began the really hard part of our journey to Zion. We had been traveling for more than two months but we had a long way to go yet to reach the Salt Lake Valley. Me and my family loaded up a wooden handcart with our few belongings to begin our journey across the plains.

I’ll never forget the first time I saw Indians along the trail. I was excited and scared at the same time because there were stories about Indians hurting people. But these Indians just looked at us, they didn’t hurt us. I was so grateful. Later in our journey, at Fort Laramie, we saw more Indians and the kind Indian children shared candied fruit with the pioneer children.

Grandma Mary, was it hard?

Yes, Irene, it was hard work. It was so different from our life in England. But we were going to Zion so each day I walked, pushing and pulling with my mother, father, husband and cousin in the Martin handcart company. Gradually we got used to it. Each night twenty of us slept together in a big round tent with our feet toward the middle and we cooked over fires.

But there were good times too. When we were camped by a river, the children had fun swimming. It was so good to see children, just like you, having some fun. We had much to do each night in camp. We gathered wood or buffalo chips so we could make our fires. The handcart would break and need to be fixed. And we were getting worn down. Time was running out to get to Zion before winter came so we traveled as far as we could each day.

What was it like Grandma Mary, walking day after day, pushing and pulling a handcart?
It was a long hard journey so I would sing the Handcart Song. The words and the melody helped me continue one step at a time. We didn’t have enough food to make it to Zion. So Elder Franklin D. Richards, an apostle, road ahead in a fast carriage, to tell the Prophet that the handcart pioneers needed help and more food. We prayed everyday for help to come and we kept pushing along as fast as we could go toward Zion.

Grandma Mary, tell me about crossing the icy rivers.

We had to cross many icy cold rivers to reach Zion. I remember the day we crossed the Platte River. The weather had turned from hot to cold in just a few days. It started to snow and we had to wade across the river through the cold water. It was so cold that I even saw ice floating in the river. Everyone was hungry including me. We worked hard every day and the cold made it worse because there wasn’t much food and we had to make it last as long as possible. I felt hungry everyday. But I walked and pushed and pulled anyway, just like everyone else, so that I could reach Zion.

What about the help that Elder Richards promised to send, Grandma Mary?

Well Irene, we didn’t know this but hundreds of miles away in Salt Lake City, Elder Richards arrived in time for General Conference and told Brigham Young about me and the other handcart pioneers. He said we needed food and help to make it safely to the Salt Lake Valley. The prophet told the men to gather food and wagons and then go and find us on the plains. Then he ended church early so everyone could help get the wagons ready to go.

Tell me, Grandma Mary, about the man who rescued you.

Well Irene, a righteous man named Burt Simmons already had a stout carriage full of food and ready to go. He and many others followed the Prophet’s directions and quickly left Salt Lake to help me, my family and the other pioneers. They hurried as fast as they could to reach us before winter came. But they didn’t make it before the snow because it came early that year.

How did you keep going, Grandma Mary, not knowing when help would come?

I prayed all the time, Irene. All of us did. I was so hungry and so cold. There was lots of snow and it was hard to pull our handcarts. We didn’t have enough to eat. Some people died, including my mother, my father and my husband. I was so sad but I knew I had to keep moving on toward Zion. The snow was so deep that we had to stop for a few days in a place now called Martin’s Cove. Soon Burt Simmons found me and he and other rescuers helped all the pioneers make it to the Salt Lake Valley. I was so weak and my feet were frozen. I don’t remember much about that part of the journey.

Grandma Mary, how did you get better?

Burt Simmons drove me in his sturdy carriage to his home where his wife took good care of me. It was a long time but she nursed me back to good health and even saved my feet from the frost bite. Many others lost fingers, toes and even feet because they were frozen. After several months I was strong again.

I love that story Grandma Mary. You are so good, noble and kind. I want to be just like you when I grow up.

Thank you, Irene. The Lord has blessed me. I’ve been married in the temple and have nine children, your mother being the youngest. Plus I have 57 grandchildren. I still remember what it was like to not have enough food to eat so I never waste any food, not even a potato peel. I’m so happy that I can tell you about Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father and how they have blessed me.

Grandma Mary, I’m so glad that you are my grandmother. Because of you the Lord has blessed me too.

I’m open to suggestions on my text. I feel very inadequate to write the text but I’m dedicated to making this project the best that I can.

My Joy Jar


This week these things brought happiness to my life:

  1. Cava (Dune’s mom) is Casey’s (puppy #3) litter-mate
  2. every time Dune pees & poops outside
  3. Dune & Jacob cuddling
  4. talking to Sue on the phone
  5. getting more sleep
  6. the power of food protocol
  7. new panel behind my desk
  8. Dune’s spunky attitude
  9. helping my sister learn to email attachments
  10. helping Kris
  11. Dune relieving
  12. Dune sleeping
  13. Dune snuggling with Zodiac
  14. Yakira in class
  15. Dune in her jacket
  16. colors of my knitting project
  17. Dune on the stairs
  18. purple
  19. finishing my fingerless gloves
  20. watching Dune take a nap
  21. Dune sleeping until 6 a.m.
  22. Zodiac doing his happy dance
  23. warmer temperatures outside
  24. coming home to a dry Dune in her kennel
  25. how good Dune & Zodiac were at puppy class
  26. Dune pooping outside
  27. thinking of seeing Yakira soon


Pupdate – Yakira in Class

Yakira – photo by Lisa Thompson

We got the call this week that as puppy raisers we work for. Late Wednesday morning we got the news that Yakira is in class and scheduled to graduate on February 2nd. Since Yakira was still in phase 7 last week on the phase report I didn’t think about her being matched up this week. I was just focused on the next phase report that comes out on Thursdays. So when our club leader called on Wednesday before lunch I thought it would be something about Dune. But she asked if we could be in Oregon for a graduation next Saturday! Dog day is on Monday but one of the students dog didn’t work out for some reason and Yakira was matched with that student. We are waiting for the official letter to get a name and address for Yakira’s handler. Maybe it will come tomorrow. It took me about a day to get over my shock at the news. I’m so excited to see Yakira again and meet her partner!

On a side note, Dune is doing great. She is an amazing little girl. More about her and Zodiac in a future pupdate.

Here is Brandy’s second installment in her series on how to turn your family research in to engaging stories that your family will actually want to read.


Brandy Heineman

In this series, we’re talking about how to craft your genealogical research into engaging stories to share with family.

  • The first post covers the facts, clues, and in-between bits that form the backbone of your story, and you can find it here.

Today we’re looking at the key components to a story. The research, impressions and suppositions you’ve gathered give you a good start, but in order to make it interesting, you will need a Character, a Conflict, and a Cost. To put it another way, successful stories tell of someone who does or experiences something with some significance.


To convert research into stories, you must identify the characters.

Without people, events lack meaning and context. Even in national terms, we mostly vividly remember where we were when we heard the news. We make it personal. To tell interesting stories, we must do the same with our ancestors.

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Stand in Holy Places Bookmark

Youth Theme 2013 Bookmarks

While I was working on my calendar for 2013 I planned a bookmark to go along with this year’s theme for the youth in our church. Because of the size I planned the calendar to be I thought I would be able to print some bookmarks in the wasted space on the edge of the page. But I made a mistake and didn’t make the calendar the size that I thought I was making it and so I didn’t end up having space there. I’m still not sure how I’m going to use these bookmarks but I thought I’d share them here in case anyone wants to use them. Feel free to use them for any non-commercial purpose. The colors I used here are geared for the young women but if someone wants different colors let me know and I can easily add some more colors.

Book of the Week – “Grandmum”

As I was looking for this weeks book and trying to decide which one I wanted to share, I came across this book, “Grandmum.” And new that it was the right book. This is what the author, Jennifer Glantz said about her book:

The book came to life from the fact of my love for my grandma. She’s really very important to me. She’s my best friend, my mentor and the one I can talk to about absolutely everything.She has been my neighbour for the past 22 years, my entire life. I moved away from home for studies about 2 years ago. Since then I have missed being able to walk over to her house and talk with her everyday.

One weekend when I came home for a short visit the two of us sat down together and looked at some old photos of her and the people that have been important to her in her life. It was a wonderful feeling to see these photos while she told me the history behind them. There and then I realised and saw the real life she had lived. The people, circumstances and surroundings that have formed her into the wonderful woman she is today. I saw the people that once had lived with here, the people that she had loved, they who not live anymore. So there I sat, realising that this is what life is about. Memories. Her memories and those pictures is as close I can come to being there with her, when the photos was taken, some of them almost 80 years old.
So here it is, my book about my best friend, my mentor, my great Grandma.

What a labor of love. What a very doable project. She did a great job of sharing the story of her grandmother your her choice of photos and the order she put them in. The simple format works great. Do you have someone who you could do a book like this for?



Another Illustration for the Mary Book

I thought I would share the latest illustration for our Mary book project. This illustration is of Brigham Young telling the people in the Salt Lake Valley about the handcart pioneer in need of help. It is exciting to be making steady progress on getting this book finished. My mom turns 90 in a couple of months and this will be a major part of her birthday.

I’ve been working on the text and made some major changes to it which I think will make it more interesting. Plus during a brainstorming session we came up with the idea of having an image to search for in each illustration which relates to another story from the Martin Handcart company. The back of the book will give the images to search for and the little story. I think I’ll post the text on my next update.