Writing Challenge: day 3

Today for my writing challenge, I finished reading The Companion Guide to The Family History Writing Challenge” by Lynn Palermo. Then I called my Dad to ask questions and make some decisions about his book. We determined that this will be a Legacy type book with pictures and documents along with the third person narrative. It was interesting when I asked my Dad if he wanted it in first person on third person he said that if it was in first person it would sound like he was bragging.

We worked through Lynn’s worksheets on identifying the theme and focus of the book. One comment I didn’t expect and I wonder if it is common in his generation. When I asked him about the emotions he felt when thinking about this book, he assumed I meant negative emotions.

This book focuses on the time that my Dad was an instructor at the Underwater Swimmers School in Key West Florida from 1954 to 1957. He was part of setting the school up and it was the first time that the Navy had a formal school for training in using SCUBA. He hopes to share the many positive things that he gained from the Navy, the new experiences, people he met and the things he learned and taught to others. His experiences in Navy EOD are rather unique and they shaped his life for the better.

We also filled out the Story Arc Worksheet about why he went to Key West, his goals and the possible risks in doing so. I learned more about some of the challenges that they faced in getting ready and teaching the first set of students. I still don’t know how or what I’m actually going to write, but I’m moving forward with the hope that the ideas and words will come if I lay the groundwork and diligently work through the process.

I still have more work to do in organizing and gathering resources but I’m hoping to start the writing process by the first week of June. As long as a put in my time each day, I’ll be pleased with my progress even if it takes longer than that. See you back here tomorrow.

Writing Challenge: day 2

imaginary readers of Navy history

I’ve made my goal to spend at least an hour working on the writing side of my Dad’s Navy history two days in a row. Yeah! To be perfectly honest not much writing has actually happened. I’m in the preparing to write phase but it is still good. I continued reading The Companion Guide to The Family History Writing Challenge” by Lynn Palermo. This is my first time through so mostly it is just getting the big picture into my head. I finished Section 1 – The Vision for Your Book and Section 2 – Organizing You and Your Research.

I think I made some real progress in Chapter 3 – Getting to Know Your Reader. I even called my Dad to talk to him about who this book is really for. We had discussed that it was for his grandchildren and his great-grandchildren. I visualized that as a 8 to 18-year-old and he agreed. But when I pointed out at that an 8 to 18-year-old probably isn’t interested in the documents that we have he adjusted his thinking. We have also talked about that he wants to take this book to the Underwater Swimmers School Reunion in 2015. So his target reader is actually retired Navy personnel, similar to him. I think the grand kids and great-grand kids come into the picture only through the grandpa. The hope and vision are that this book will create an opportunity for the grandpa to sit down with a child and share his experiences and memories. My dad talked about something like that but I’ll need to clarify that vision with him. But it feels right.

In the book Lynn suggests imagining your perfect reader and actually drawing a picture and describing them, even giving them a name. My first drawing was of Wallie. Then after talking to my Dad, I drew Walt. Now I can visualize Walt siting down with this book is his lap with his grandson Wallie beside him. I’d like to someday write my Dad’s Navy history targeted to that 10-year-old but this isn’t that project. Though I think it will be the basis for that future graphic adventure story.

If you have stayed with me this far, thanks. I’ll be back tomorrow with day 3 of my writing challenge.

Story Projects Update

Volume 7 coverI know that posts have been sparse for the last several months. I’ve tried to focus on histories for my Mom with varying degrees of success. But I’m happy to report the next volume of our family history “Our Two Grandsons” is finished and distributed to family members. It covered September 1997 to December of 2001. This is the 7th volume in the history of my parents since they met and married in 1956. Based mostly on notes in my Mom’s planners with a few letters to her sisters, it isn’t a great read but the photos are fun and it does a good job of documenting my parents lives and important family miles stones. Yeah for getting it done. I gave it to my Mom on Mother’s Day and she was very happy.

Now I’m focusing on a project for my Dad. He spent 20 years in the Navy and really wants to do a history about it. I’ve worked on it here and there over the last few years in fits and starts. It will need to be a multi-volume history to cover everything. I talked with him for a couple of hours last week about what he wants to accomplish and why it is important too him. He shared several stories that I’ve never heard. I’m excited about this history but intimidated by what needs to be done in writing. While my Mom is super happy with just a factual documentation of her life, my Dad needs and wants something more. In order to do this I’m going to have to really learn how to tell his story. I’ve not done this before. We are focusing first on the years he was an instructor at the Navy’s Underwater Swimmers School in Key West, Florida. My Dad is going to a UWSS reunion next May and wants to take a copy with him.

So here is my plan. I signed up for the Armchair Genealogist‘s family history writing challenge in February. But between RootsTech and taking Dune to Oregon, I decided that it wasn’t the right time. Now I’m going to do it on my own. I saved all the emails and I’ve downloaded her The Companion Guide to The Family History Writing Challenge”. I’m committing to spending at least an hour each weekday to writing the narrative to the Key West volume. There are so many decision yet to be made to how to handle this project but I think that following the steps of Lynn’s challenge will give me a chance at tackling this project.

I think an important part of my commitment to this challenge is to share with you each day the progress I’ve made in first planning and then actually writing. I’m hoping to have the planning and research done by June 1st. Hopefully you won’t get sick of seeing my humble efforts but I think it will help me follow through with this challenge. Today I spent an hour reading “The Companion Guide” and completed the first two chapters and worked on filling out “The Vision Worksheet”.

I’ll check back in tomorrow and tell you how it is going. Wish me luck! I think I’m going to need it.

50 Jar Gifts: idea #21 – “I Love You” Jar

gift of love in a jar from New Nostalgia

I had visions of getting a bunch of jar gift ideas done for Mother’s Day but somehow other things took priority. So now I have a chance to do some Father’s Day focused ideas. I find dad’s harder to buy for and often resort to edible gifts for my Dad. I’ll resist that at least for a bit and see what else I can come up with first. This idea works equally well for Moms, Dads, Grandparents or anyone. It is super simple in concept. Just write the things you love and appreciate about the person on slips of paper and put them into a jar. By folding or even curling them it looks fun and helps the jar look full. You can decorate the jar any way you would like. Here are a few examples of what others have done.

photo via Pinterest via Squidoo.com

I love you jar from Debbie Hanley

image from Cool Mom Picks via Pinterest

If this idea inspires you, let me know. I’d love to share your project here too.jar gift logos22

Want some more ideas? Visit my Pinterest board dedicated to jar gift ideas.

Dune: darling


A new class started this week in Boring, Oregon but Dune was not part of it. Felix who we transported to campus in February is in class, so that is awesome. I keep reminding myself that a good match is so much more important than a fast match. So next potential graduation is June 7th. Here is another page from Dune’s book.

Even as a little puppy Dune was darling. Another puppy raiser commented that she was like a miniature dog and she was. Instead of the typical big feet and gangly looks of most puppies, Dune was very petite and well proportioned. She grew in an even and gradual way and kept the same proportion as when she was a puppy.

As a grown dog, she is still darling not only in how she looks but also in personality. She has a gentleness about her even while she has strength and determination.

Dune: dance


We are now in the waiting stage with Dune’s training. The phase report came out as usual but since phase 8 is the last phase the report looked the same as far as Dune is concerned. The next class in Oregon starts on Monday so we will be holding our breath every time the phone rings on wondering if it will be news about Dune. I’d guess that there is about a 25% chance of her being in the next class.

Dinner time is dance time for Dune, especially if she has to wait past the usual 5:00 p.m. feeding time. We worked to teach her to wait calmly for her dinner but when I first start moving toward the kitchen she just can’t contain her excitement and spins and hops and dancing feet just pop out of her. It is very cute. Once I get the food into her bowl and start adding the water she settles down nicely and waits calmly for the “OK” command. Dune’s dance is short but very energetic.

Dune is also a natural at standing on her hind legs and balancing herself. I have no doubt that she could learn to dance on her hind legs like I’ve seen in competitions on the TV. Too bad I didn’t get any pictures of her doing such things.

50 Jar Gifts: idea #20 – bath salts

image from My Crazy Blessed Life

Here is a quick idea for Mother’s Day or any time of year, homemade bath salts! I’ve never tried them but they look like they are fun and easy to put together. Show your mom you appreciate her hard work and that she should take some time for herself. Remissness about childhood bath time. Thank her for all the years of service and the good memories.

Click on the photos for recipes and instructions.

image from Denise in Bloom

photo from Paula Deen

photo from Saving with Shellie

If this idea inspires you, let me know. I’d love to share your project here too.jar gift logos21

Want some more ideas? Visit my Pinterest board dedicated to jar gift ideas.

Dune: daffy & phase 8


I think someone was trying to stress out all the puppy raisers with dogs in training today. Usually the phase report comes out early Thursday morning (2 a.m. local time) So when I woke up in the middle of the night I got up to check. But the link to the report got an error so no luck. I check Facebook and found out that I wasn’t the only one with the problem. It took until this afternoon to get access to the report fixed. Good news is that Dune is in phase 8! This is the last phase of training to be a guide dog. Next step is meeting her new partner in an upcoming class. That could happen in about a week and a half or it could take many weeks. Now it comes to the waiting game. Super happy and proud that Dune has reached this milestone. It is looking like she wants to be a guide dog.

Phase 8

There is a daffy side to Dune. She loves belly rubs and she loves to play. She brought joy and lots of laughter to our lives with her silly antics. Dune also likes to sleep in the craziest positions. Puppies are amazing that way. It was fun to see how relaxed and confident she was with her world.