Monday, August 31, 2015

Dos and Don'ts for Preserving Family Photos


Need another random fact about Katie?  I am a genealogy nerd.  Since my early high school years, I have been collecting and scanning and documenting history in the form of photographs.  This early interest (not really a normal hobby for a teen) was a blessing in disguise because I had the chance to sit and talk about those photos and memories with my grandparents before they all passed away.  I treasure the opportunity I had to hear those stories and record them for another generation.

This spring and summer as my family has been cleaning out the house that my maternal grandparents lived in, they have found thousands of photographs.  Not a surprise considering the size of their family (7 kids, 18 grandkids, 29 great grandkids, and 6 great-greats...), but what was a sad revelation was that so many of the pictures were unlabeled, unsorted, damaged, and had never been seen by others in the family. We had planned a special memorial service/family reunion in the middle of the summer, so I set a goal for myself to get all of those pictures scanned, sorted, and ready to share with the people who would be gathered together.

Let me tell you, it was no easy task.  A lot of hours later, I had scanned a vast majority of the pictures, digitally and physically labeling them as I went, and sorted the photos into envelopes to be given to each branch of the family, including distant relatives that I knew would value pictures of their great-great grandparents too.  I then took all of the scanned images and info and burned CDS for all the kids, grandkids, great grands, etc. that wanted them- so now everyone has access to all of the family photos that we have discovered.

We found some real treasures, and now there are a lot of pictures that I want to have printed, both to hang in my home and to add to the family scrapbooks.  Unfortunately as I have worked with all of these photos, I have also found lots of damage and pictures we can't use.  For example-

This is a pic of my poor Granny as a toddler- we can't find the rest of the photo with her head...

Or there's this one of my Papa- It was originally a black and white military photo, but along the way some generous kiddo decided to add a little crayon, including a bit too much lipstick:

A sad picture that is discolored, cracked and broken:

And this is just one of many photos that we can't identify the people in.  I have a stack of photos that have been perused by all of my mom's siblings and some extended family, and we still can't name who's who.  (Also, the sweet little girls in this pic are holding up dead squirrels...what?)
:

So what can we do to preserve these family treasures?  I've been collecting, labeling, sorting, sharing, and storing old family photos for about 15 years now, and I've learned a few things along the way. Here are are my top dos and don'ts for preserving your family photos:


*Don't: Write ON the front of the photo for goodness' sake.  Don't write using a normal ink pen that can eventually bleed through and never use a standard permanent marker.
*Do: Write lightly on the back of the photo using a pencil or acid free archival pen.  If the photo is fragile, write the information on a small piece of paper or envelope and store with the photo.  Include any information you know- names of people in the photo, point of reference in the family tree, and even an estimated year if you can.  (If unsure, I include approx. or the ~ symbol.  I figure my best guess is probably better than what someone will be able to do in 25 years.)

*Don't: Keep photos in cardboard boxes or store them in haphazard stacks that lead them to be bent or folded. Don't store photos in boiling hot attics or damp, cool basements or other non-climate controlled environments.
*Do: Store photos in a flat, acid free container of some kind.  There are lots of inexpensive options. Use folders or other dividers to organize and separate photos. A good rule of thumb is to keep the photos where you "live."  In other words, store them on the main floor of your house where temperature and humidity are the most consistent.

*Don't: Just tuck the photos away in a "safe" place or divvy them up among family members...yet. Safe storage places are susceptible to fire, basement floods, misplaced boxes... Think about it- they're the one thing you can't replace.
*Do: Scan everything first.  Seriously.  Take them to a professional photo place and have them scanned, or buy your own scanner and learn how to use it.  Enlist help if you need it, but then you can have infinite digital copies of those precious photos.  You can personally back up the photos on an external hard drive, store a copy in a safe deposit box, and burn a CD for every sibling, aunt, and second cousin that wants one.  Even if the originals are lost or damaged (sob) you will still have the photos. (Also, remember to save the photos using a files name that identifies the people in the picture. Hundreds of IMG504s won't do your grandkids any good.)

*Don't: Please please please don't store photos in magnetic photo albums.  If you have any pictures in those monstrosities books, here is an article with tips for safely removing them. (I am cringing inside thinking about what those albums do to photos...)
*Do: If you want to store photos in an album, binder, or scrapbook, that is great!  Just make sure the book and all materials are acid free.  It is amazing how fast items will discolor and be damaged from the wrong materials.  I have lots of pages from my early days of scrapbooking that have completely fallen apart and discolored.  (Fortunately, I was using copies of the photos, not the real deal!)  I also highly recommend using photo corners like these, especially for old photographs, because none of the adhesive actually touches the photos.  Scrapbooks should be stored vertically to prevent embellishments on pages from making impressions in photographs (crazy, but even seemingly flat stickers can do this over time).

*Don't: Assume who is in pictures, or guess at spellings, or get rid of pictures that you can't identify. Also, don't just stop at names and dates; see if you can find out the story and context behind the photograph.
*Do: Take your photos to a grandparent or other older family members and spend time asking them to help identify people and tell stories about the pictures.  Better yet, gather many family members at once to go through the photographs, collect information, and check facts.  Jot down notes to record alongside the photos.  Check names against genealogy records (for example, finally figuring out that my great great aunt Mary Geneva went by the nickname Neva made some pieces fit together.)

My goal is always about preserving the memories and stories of my family.  Photographs are tied to that mission, and caring for them properly will help many more generations know and understand their past.

***And- All the pictures in this post are in terrible shape! If you would like to see some my favorite family photos and the stories they tell, you can check out these posts:
Throw (Way) Back, Edition 1 (My mom's side- and this post also tells a bit of the story of how and why I got started in genealogy)
Throw (Way) Back, Edition 2 (My dad's side)
All those pictures with their wonderful fashions, and still haven't found a picture with my granny wearing any of the dresses that I model in this post.  Maybe, maybe, if I keep digging I will! :)  You also might like reading my sister's post about printing your family photos from today so later generations will have them for tomorrow.

I'd love to hear about your adventures with family photos- finding them, preserving them, telling their stories...what have you done with your heirloom photographs?


Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Year of Mercy Resources- All the ideas, printables, and links in one spot!


A majority of my posts this summer have revolved around the upcoming Year of Mercy, so you might be thinking- another post?  really?  the Jubilee year doesn't even start until December!

Well, it is the beginning of the school year, when themes and content are chosen, and it is good to plan ahead, and I have a couple of workshops coming up with this as the topic, so I needed to be ready :) You can always bookmark this to come back to later.  But if you want to get a jump on ideas for the upcoming Jubilee, keep on reading!

Quick Crafts:

First up, here are a couple of Divine Mercy craft ideas that are simple and cheap that haven't made their way into their own blog posts:

One quick Divine Mercy craft you could make is this cute mini shrine:

It is made with a repurposed Altoid tin and features the Image of Divine Mercy, instructions and the words to the prayers, and a pop-out Divine Mercy Chaplet.  You can also check my original post about making mini shrines.



Another super fast idea is to make these little decade Rosaries/Chaplets.  The heart and the vertical beam of the cross are one long bent pipe cleaner and the horizontal beam of the cross is a short (~2") piece of a pipe cleaner twisted on.  String on ten pony beads, twist together, and you have a chaplet that can easily be used by little fingers- they can even slide the beads as they pray.  These also could be used for good deed beads.  I used blue, white, and red colors to remind us of the symbolism in the Image of Divine Mercy.

Books to Read:

If you are looking for a book to read (or give to your catechists or teachers) during the Year of Mercy, these are my top three recommendations:


  1. The Church of Mercy by Pope Francis- short snippets of homilies or other addresses, grouped into categories.  Easy to read (can be picked up and put down or read in different order), and packed with wisdom on mercy, teaching, evangelizing, and more.
  2. The Second Greatest Story Ever Told by Fr. Michael Gaitley- You may know Fr. Gaitley from the great devotional 33 Days to Morning Glory: A Do-It-Yourself Retreat In Preparation for Marian Consecration. He has written a phenomenal book that connects major historical events in the 20th century, Catholic greats like St. John Paul II and St. Maximilian Kolbe, and shows how their stories all interconnect and mean something for us today.  I loved it!
  3. Mercy in the City: How to Feed the Hungry, Give Drink to the Thirsty, Visit the Imprisoned, and Keep Your Day Job by Kerry Weber-Great book about how a young single woman actively tried to live out the Corporal Works of Mercy during one Lent.  Interesting, and makes us think about the ways we can be incorporating service and charity in our everyday routines.


Resources/Ideas/Printables/Crafts to Check Out:
Each of the images below will take you to a previous post filled with good things for the Year of Mercy. :)

Click on this image to find out my list of seven Saints to teach about during the Year of Mercy, and find out more about the Patron we chose- Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati:

Click on either of the images below to see coloring pages featuring four awesome quotes by Pier Giorgio:



Click here for a Divine Mercy watercolor art project, including a way to simply explain the symbolism of the colors in the Divine Mercy image:

Click here for a coloring page and a two different mini books about the Corporal Works of Mercy:

Click here for a coloring page and a two different mini books about the Spiritual Works of Mercy:

Click here for a "Do Justly, Love Mercy, Walk Humbly" coloring page:

Click here for a "Do Justly, Love Mercy, Walk Humbly" coloring page:

Click here for "Do Justly, Love Mercy, Walk Humbly" classroom door signs:

Click here for a "Do Justly, Love Mercy, Walk Humbly" folder or notebook cover:

Click here for pattern and instructions for making a Divine Mercy melty bead craft:

Click here for ideas for several easy and cheap mercy bulletin boards:


Click on the image below for a printable for making a "pop-out" Divine Mercy Chaplet:

Click on the image below for a notebooking activity connecting the Image of Divine Mercy and the Sacrament of Reconciliation:

Click on the image below for a post about making a lapbook connecting the Image of Divine Mercy and the Sacrament of Reconciliation:

Follow my Year of Mercy board on Pinterest for the latest ideas:


Videos for the Year of Mercy:
Click here to follow the list of videos I have been compiling related to the Year of Mercy:


Other Places to Check Out:

Check out the official Vatican Year of Mercy website here. See the calendar for the celebration here. Go to the USCCB site to read about the Year of Mercy here. You can watch a video snippet explaining the Year of Mercy logo and prayer here.

Visit Mother of Mercy Activities- the have a CD for purchase with 120 activities, but there are 12 available for free download.  Includes explanation of image of Divine Mercy, life of St. Faustina, how to recite the chaplet, and Divine Mercy coloring page, etc.

A few more Divine Mercy coloring pages can be found here and here.

If you want to do the Divine Mercy Novena, you can find resources here.

Catholic Icing has a ton of ideas for food and crafts celebrating Divine Mercy, including a Divine Mercy novena counter, a tie dye Divine Mercy shirt, Divine Mercy Sundaes, and more.

If you want to order affordable Divine Mercy prints and holy cards, I would check out this site.


So there's the list so far!  I sure more will come up as the year goes on.  My next goal is to create some new resources connecting the Mercy of Christ as seen in his healing miracles and through the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick, as well as some activities about the Holy Doors only opened during a Jubilee. Do you have any other ideas or goals for the upcoming Year of Mercy?

Friday, August 21, 2015

Mercy Themed Printables



It's almost time for CCD to start!  I have spent the week finalizing registration packets, running the toner out of the copy machine, double checking the calendars... and making printables for our theme, which is much more fun than all that boring paperwork :).  If you were thinking about using a mercy theme in your program, classroom, or even just for a unit, here are a few printables that you may like:


Click here for a folder/notebook cover:
(We added our parish name at the topic- If you would like it personalized, I can easily edit the file and then email it to you- just leave a message in the comments below).


Click here for printable classroom signs (we put them on room doors) for preschool-8th grade, Confirmation, and High School.  If you have another grade combination or room label that you would like edited, I'd be happy to do that for you.  Just leave a message in the comments below-


Click here for my post with a couple of printables for the theme verse "Do justly, love mercy, walk humbly with our God." ~Micah 6:8-
And check out all of my resources for the Year of Mercy under my Sharing The Faith tab!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Saints for the Year of Mercy {Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati}

Love this guy.
The Year of Mercy is a unique opportunity to teach kids about Saints that they might not have previously encountered.  All Saints are recipients of God's radical mercy, but some stand out as examples that can help us model extending and receiving mercy.

Here are seven Saints that I plan to teach about during this Year of Mercy:
  • St. John Paul II- ushered in devotion to Divine Mercy, canonized St. Faustina, lifetime example of love and forgiveness in words and actions (I have activities about JP2 here and here)
  • St. Faustina Kowalska- received visions of Divine Mercy, messenger chosen by Jesus to share with the world (For a craft project explaining the symbolism in Faustina's vision of Jesus go here)
  • St.Maximilian Kolbe- spread the light of the faith across the world during a dark era, and showed immense mercy by putting the needs and lives of others before his own (For a cross-curricular unit on the life of St. Max go here)
  • St.John Vianney- remembered for many things, including spending 16 hours a day in the Confessional, priest who is a great example of the importance of the mercy God extends to us in the Sacraments
  • St. Paul- example of receiving great mercy after conversion from former sinful life, wrote often in the New Testament about grace, mercy and salvation. (Read more here) (I have a St. Paul coloring page here.)
  • Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati- With great sacrifice to self, Pier Giorgio lived out the Corporal Works of Mercy by serving the sick and poor. (For mini books and a coloring page about the Corporal Works of Mercy go here)
  • Our Lady of Mercy- Mary is the utmost example of both receiving God's mercy and bringing Mercy into the world. (for a list of activities I have about Mary go here and scroll down the page)
Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati will officially be our CCD Patron Saint for the year.  The kids will learn about his life and how they can follow his model to better love God and their neighbors.  I made this hallway display to introduce the kids to my friend Pier:

The beautiful poster and postcards are products from Cassie Pease Designs. (LOVE her stuff. LOVE. She has tons of gorgeous free wallpapers to download in addition to her products.)  I added some basic facts about his life around the pictures, as well as info about his connection to the Corporal Works of Mercy and the Beatitudes:


On another wall, I have this great poster from Pauline Media with a short story of his life on the back:

When I tried to find some coloring pages featuring Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati...I was disappointed...so I made my own.  Here are four new coloring pages modeled after real photographs of Pier Giorgio and featuring some of my favorite quotes.  Click on the image to download a pdf version of the coloring pages:





The Archdiocese of Melbourne has created some great resources about Pier Giorgio for youth.  You can read their Archbishop's beautiful letter here and can see the videos I added to my playlist here.

What Saints do you think would be great to incorporate during the Year of Mercy?