Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Twilight to New Moon…How does your family fit in?

Twilight to New Moon? What does that have to do with family history? Well, take a mini-break from plowing through your family photos. Consider how you can encourage the next generation to understand family history.
First, you need to talk their language. And what better way than to use one of the icons of teen life, that is, the Twilight saga.

Everywhere you look this holiday season, you see the books, the commercials and the movies of the Twilight saga.

Whether you or your teen are Team Jacob or Team Edward, you can bring the Twilight experience closer to your own family without putting any lives at risk. Here’s how.

My favorite part of the saga is when Jacob tells the stories and legends of the Quileute tribe. Storytelling is not unique to Jacob’s family. Oral traditions are the basis of family history from the beginning of time. What is unique about his family’s tale is that it explains how Jacob became Jacob.

We can learn about our own family by using some of these same techniques. And, the holidays create the perfect atmosphere to uncover your own family’s legends. As relatives gather together, you can be the catalyst for igniting the conversation about your family’s history. Sit with some of the oldest family members, perhaps a grandparent or aunt or uncle. Make sure they are at ease and comfortable. Most will be delighted to talk with you and you can guide their stories with your questions. Just ask a few of these thought-starters below and you can learn more about your family than you ever realized.

*What is your very first memory?
*What was Christmas like when you were a child? How did your family celebrate?
*What was the best present you ever received at Christmas? Why?
*Tell me about your grandparents. Where did they live? What were their jobs?
*What was a typical day like for you as a child?
*What was my Mom/Dad like as a child?
*What do you remember about the day I was born?

There are many, many more questions you can use. Be sure to ask good follow-up questions to gain a better understanding. Don’t forget to say “Why?” to flesh out details which may have been forgotten.

Jacob understands the value of his family’s history and he keeps the history alive by sharing it. You can do the same thing. It’s hard to know where you’re going if you don’t know where your family has been. And, most important of all, your family history tells the story of how you became you.

Now get back to plowing through your photos, email the best one to, and you might win two tickets to the Mesa Family History Expo. Perhaps you can take someone from the Twilight generation with you. Or, register now to be sure you attend at

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Win Free Tickets to the 2 Day Family History Expo in Mesa, Arizona! Here's how...

I love contests almost as much as I love family history. So I am excited to announce the "Value Meals on the Volga" blog contest to win two free tickets for a full two-day registration to the 2010 Mesa, Arizona Family History Expo.

The expo is January 22 and 23 and is jam packed with excellent speakers and exhibitors who will take your family history experience to the next level.

How can you win? Submit your favorite historic family photograph in an electronic format. (See my example on the right). Tell us in a paragraph or two how you received the photo and why this photo is such a special part of your family. Email your entry to

Entries will be uploaded to this blog. Readers can vote on the best and in the event of a tie, my vote will be the tie breaker.

Hurry and enter as soon as possible! The deadline is January 15. The winner will be announced on this site.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Tired of shopping? Sit back, relax, and consider a real gift for your family

If you are like me, you have a few more remaining items on your shopping list to buy before Thursday. Should you stop Monday after work, or wait til Christimas Eve? When should you visit the grocery store? Would they really like this gift? Should I give money instead? The questions and options are endless.

We can get so busy during Christmas week, sometimes need to sit back, relax and consider new options. And while the gifts I have are meant to please, there are times I wonder if I ever get the right match for all of those on my list. Have you seen the Peyton Manning commerical where he presents the woman with the mouth guard? I have actually seen the expression and heard the sigh of that woman as she holds the gift between her index finger and thumb from my own family.
Consider stepping back from the traditional way of shopping. Gifts under the tree sometimes only last as long as the wrapping paper.

Give yourself the gift you deserve. Give yourself the time to research your family history. This is the gift which can be passed down from generation to generation. Only if you get started now.

Don't know where to start? One of the Family History Expos can jumpstart your plan. There are expos throughout the country, but if you happen to be in Arizona, the Mesa convention is right around the corner. Join us! Where else can you rub elbow with Tim Sullivan the CEO of (pictured above) and Lisa Louise Cooke, host of the Genealogy Gems (pictured on the right). Plus, there will be so many opportunities to learn the latest in genealogical research including how to use social networking.

Register today at and give yourself the gift you really want.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Win Free Tickets to the Family History Expo in Mesa, Arizona!

Details will be posted here soon on how you can win free tickets to this phenomenal event on January 22nd and 23rd at the Mesa Convention Center.

Save these dates and register today. You won't want to miss any of the valuable information during this jam packed two day event.

For more details on this event, check out

Friday, December 11, 2009

From Twilight to New Moon...

"From Twilight to New Moon, " my latest article on how to involve kids in family history, published this week in the Edukid Newspaper. If any of you or your family members have read the "Twilight" saga, you can easily relate the characters to your own genealogical search.

In Arizona, copies are available at Barnes & Noble (Dana Park) in Mesa. Will be available on the edukid web site by the weekend and I will add the link when it is online.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

From Arizona Family History Expo to St. Nick's Day

It has been a great week for family history. Earlier this week I was selected to become a blogger of honor for the Family History Expo in Mesa, Arizona on January 22 and 23rd. It is a jam packed two day event for which I will offer previews and on the spot updates. This expo is the event of the year for Arizona family historians and genealogists. If you haven't already registered for the event, click this link and register today at With over 37 expert speakers and a multitude of exhibitor booths, this is an event you won't want to miss.

For updates on the expo, visit

Yesterday I spoke to over sixty people at the Arizona Sun Chapter meeting. My topic, What is facebook? and why do Germans from Russia need to know about it?, sparked excellent discussion with the attendees. Everyone learned and the potluck lunch was the best ever. The Babitzke Annual Raffle generated $226 in donations for AHSGR headquarters.

And as a close to the weekend, I continue to be impressed with St. Nick's ability to choose the perfect gifts to celebrate his feast day. I received a hard cover version of The Time Traveler's Wife, my oldest daughter received Our Noise, the story of Merge Records, and my youngest daughter received Twilight, a Parody. What a wonderful preview for the holidays yet to come. And, our celebration of St. Nicholas is one of our all time favorite family traditions.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Last week in October...

Today starts the last week of October and Family History month. I haven't heard much "official" news about family history celebrations from the media. Yet, October is certainly one of the best months to begin to explore your history...the weather's cooler, indoor activities replace outdoor ventures for much of the country, and with school in session, it triggers the "time to learn" gene in many of us.

While I have not seen the mainstream media blitz about Family History month, I've read and experienced many interesting tidbits about personal history. Here are a few of the highlights:

*First, one of my good "Facebook" friends recently published photographs online of some of the German Russian settlements in Argentina. A number of these were pictures of the villages I visited last November. Could it already be the one year anniversary of my trip to Argentina? Impossible.

*Second, the new Family Tree Magazine arrived on my doorstep. One of the featured articles is Deutsch Lands...Trace your ancestry in Prussia, Bavaria and more with our guide to research in Germany's historical regions. I'm hooked with the first paragraph which reads, "In this era of globalization, it's easy to think of ourselves as citizens of the world. If you turn the clock back a century, though, you'll see people took a much more regional view. Italians considered themselves Sicilians, Sardinians, Tuscans or Venetians..And now the people we call Germans referred to themselves as anything but. In those days you had Prussian and Bavarians, Palatines and Hessians, Saxons and Swabians--who all spoke various dialects of German and were united only in their dislike for each other." I just know I will spend a good hour savoring that article.

*Third, my daughter joined me at the Arizona Sun Chapter meeting today where Filmore Bender, Professor Emeritus of the University of Maryland, spoke on "The Reasons we should be thankful our ancestors came to America." He summarized two hundred years of Russian history, famine and revolution in one of the most concise and accurate versions I have heard. He also gave insight into the government and black markets in Russia as he experienced it in the 1990s.

When I asked my daughter her thoughts about his talk, she said, "It was great. He was clear and interesting...easy to listen to."

This comment from my seventeen year old clearly is the highlight of October.

Maybe media frenzy about the month is not essential to celebrate. Her comment tells me family history has gone well beyond the month. It has become a way of life. If you live it, the next generation will come.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Celebrate the Past, Build for the Future

I unexpectedly celebrated family history three times this week. I’m delighted these three events happened during Family History Month.

The first time, my daughter Becky asked if she could interview me for a class project. Of course, I said yes to her request, but I never imagined she would help me remember my own life.

We met at my house Wednesday night and any time we spend together is special. This is due to my busy work schedule and her own hectic life. So I opened a bottle of Black Oak Shiraz and we sat at our kitchen table, the best interview spot of the house.

She told me the interview was for her women and justice class and she needed to talk with a single mother who used child care. I fit the bill since I have been divorced since 1993, and Becky began child care at eight weeks old.

The assignment was the result of the latest round of budget cuts which will cost child care centers anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars to renew their licenses in January. It’s a huge issue, but it prompted Becky to ask me about the costs and choices I made. Her questions resurrected memories long past.

Becky went to a private caregiver’s home for about two years, then to another private home for a few months. When that caregiver moved, I chose a center close to the school where Becky would attend kindergarten. Once I discovered that the center, located directly across the street from the school, could not transport her back and forth, we made one more move to Kindercare.

As we talked, both Becky and I remembered caregiver’s names and faces, playmates and locations. She could remember the first private home and playmates from so many years ago.

I never considered child care to be a part of family history, but the people we met, the skills my daughter learned and the friends we made helped to make us what we are today.

The second time, I decided to eat lunch in my family room while I watched television. I couldn’t find anything interesting on the usual channels so I selected History Detectives on PBSW. I can’t tell you what or when I saw it before, but I recognized the show and it was fantastic.

The History Detectives investigate cases about heirlooms or family legends presented by viewers. The way they research and track connections offer inspiration for any family sleuth. Check out what I mean at

And, last but not least, the third event was the news of Michelle Obama’s genealogy. This story originated in the New York Times and is now on web sites and television. You can read it in the New York Times at

The article by Rachel L. Swarns and Jodi Kantor share the research of professional genealogist Megan Smolenyak who traced Obama’s ancestry.

Two phrases from the article stand out to me. The first is a quote from Edward Ball who says, “We are not separate tribes of Latinos and whites and blacks in America. We’ve all mingled, and we have done so for generations.”

And Swarns and Kantor share that, “As for his ancestry, Dolphus Shields didn’t talk about it,” because the family had gotten to a place where they didn’t want anyone to know they were slaves.” Dolphus was Obama’s great, great-grandfather.

I believe if we each research our family history back far enough, we will find poverty, abuse and other stories we would prefer to forget.

The purpose of Family History month is “to bring your family together to remember and honor your ancestors,” according to Many groups across the country, including the Family History Society of Arizona, created momentum to have October designated as Family History month in 2003.

And, I believe they did it, because they understood knowing where we have been leads us to where we are going. Isn’t that what family history is all about? Celebrate the past, build for the future.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Magge Visits Argentina debuts at Sedona Book Festival

Today I head to Sedona...beautiful Red Rock Country for a glorious four day weekend. Hiking, healthy food and relaxation are scheduled along with the Sedona Book Festival.

The Well Red Coyote hosts the event which includes writers, speakers and lots of fun for all ages.

I will be there with the Arizona Authors Association. Is there a better way to kick off the first weekend of Family History month?

Hope to see you there.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Argentina adventure continues....

The GRHS convention was a wonderful experience and unfortunately was over too quickly. I already miss the friends I reconnected with and the new friends I made.

My presentation of "Building Our Ancestral Bridge to Argentina," was well received. I was pleased to meet many people who are curious to expand their family research into South America.

"Maggie Visits Argentina," is part of my desire to share family heritage with all ages. This new adventure is target to middle and high school readers but is the ideal way for adults to learn or polish up their language skills as the book is written in English, Spanish and German.

Here is a preview of Maggie's first international adventure:

As her grandparents connect to their ancestral past, Maggie tries to make friends for the future as she travels to her first foreign destination, Argentina.Maggie reads as much as possible before her trip yet when she arrives in Buenos Aires, she discovers language is just one of the many things she does not know about Latin America. It takes three languages...English, Spanish and tell the story of exotic places, Argentine history and the friends Maggie meets on her exciting new journey.
To get full details on Maggie's experience or to order the book, click here

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Rapid City here I come...

I talk to many people in the northern states who enjoy the "warm" 70 degree weather this time of year. Since I live in 110 degree plus weather right now, there are a few moments when I think I would prefer the seventy degrees but when I consider snow, ice, wind chill factors, driving advisories and sub-zero temperatures, I firmly prefer the heat to the winter.

Not that I wouldn't like to visit the northern states for a week or two right now. Since I returned from Canada, I stayed in Chandler and Tempe most of the time. I caught the travel bug again and in September, when it can still be very hot in Arizona, I will fly to Rapid City for the German Russian Heritage Society Convention 2009. Here is a link to their blog and web site for full details.

I will present "Building our Ancestral Bridge to Argentina," workshop once on Thursday, September 10 and again on Friday, September 11. GRHS convention holds multiple workshops at the same time so offering it twice gives everyone a chance to see it. As you are aware, Argentina is one of my favorite topics so I am very excited to have this opportunity in Rapid City, South Dakota.

I have never seen the Dakotas. Some say I have been in the state since my mother visited the Dakotas when she was pregnant with me. She saw Mount Rushmore, the Badlands and all South Dakota has to offer. As historic monuments go, I have seen quite a few including Monticello, the Hermitage and Stone Mountain in Georgia. Yet, I have always wanted to see Mount Rushmore. So, as I envision myself taking a side trip to the monument, gazing at the historic profiles, I wistfully imagine the temperature the cool sixties. What a lovely dream.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Happy 4th of July! Time keeps on slippin....

Time keeps on slippin', slippin', slippin' into the future....Steve Miller, 1976

My calendar says it is the Fourth of July but I think I am still in Medicine Hat. Many people to follow up with after the convention, many more pictures to post, stories to write, articles to edit...and time keeps slippin'.

Wimbledon is in full gear so as I multi-task with the Bryan Brothers on the television and my laptop on my lap, I need to share with you the latest from

Their latest round of promotion videos touched my heart. As you are keenly aware, my passion is family history. has hit on the reason why family history should be everyone's passion. Each story touches on a connection or loss which causes a search to re-connect with someone. See for yourself at:

Alton Woodman, Peggy McDowell and Jim Lane's stories come to life here.

Which makes me wonder...if my father had known his father, if I had met all of grandparent's during my lifetime, would I still be as passionate about tracking family history. Maybe...maybe not...but I think there would always be that question lingering in the back of my mind...what is the story of how I became me.

So, time keeps on slippin' and I want to track every minute of it. And, I may need to fly like an eagle to do it.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Monday, May 25, 2009

Happy Memorial Day...

It's been a few weeks since my last update because all of my efforts were directed to put the finishing touches on my latest book. More details on the book on later updates, however it is now at the printer and I have a sense of relief I have not experienced in months. How glorious that I can reflect and relax on Memorial Day.

My Memorial Day updates are some of my favorites over the past two years. Its always been a day of remembrance and gratitude. I am grateful to have finished my book and to remember the joy of retracing my steps in Argentina...just one of my many paths in retracing my ancestry.

I also try to learn something new every Memorial Day. In the past, I focused on World War II and my Dad and Uncle's service in the Navy and Marines respectively. Yet, Memorial Day began after the Civil War. And I never understood why, when I moved from Wisconsin to Tennessee, the people I lived with in Nashville, never took too kindly to the holiday. That was, until I read David Holzel's Ten Facts About Memorial Day. Here is the link to his mental_floss column and I am sure you will learn something about Memorial Day as I did.

So, I relax and recoup today. Then I start the next journey which is to Medicine Hat, Alberta. I want to savor my plans for the trip, do as much research ahead of time, and look forward to reuniting with many friends.

Have a wonderful Memorial Day and may your memories be graced with the gratitude which comes from age and wisdom. Enjoy.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Desert Blooms in Cooper Commons...Happy Mother's Day!

I walked out the front door at 6 a.m., camera in hand to photograph the beautiful flowers in my subdivision. I think you will agree this was the perfect way to start my day. When I arrived back at my house, I planted three new cactus next to the driveway. Now on to drawing and relaxing with my girls.

Can you see the spider web protected in this cactus?

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Roswita Niessner shares her story

At the Foothills Library in Glendale, Arizona, Roswita Niessner shared her story at the Spring meeting of the Arizona Sun Chapter today.

Roswita traced the establishment of the Moravians in 1770 to the devastation of her small hometown in Upper Silesia, Germany during World War II. Her story parallels some of the plights similar to the German Russians as the war split families and forced evacuations from Germany to Prague to Austria.

After their flight out of Upper Silesia, they settled in what was to become Eastern Germany. Through her own efforts, she managed to relocate to West Germany, Scotland, back to West Germany and ultimately, Roswita married Bob Niessner and settled in America.

Roswita provided us with a new slant on WWII from the perspective of one in Germany. The starvation, fear and attacks from the Russians on the east, and the American, French and British on the west, gave us an inside look at how the Germans, who share our ancestry, experienced the war right in their homes.

Her story prompted many good questions and I know we look forward to hearing more on her personal recollection of the volatile time in history.

AHSGR Arizona Sun meeting today...

It's off to the Foothills Library for the Arizona Sun meeting which starts at 1 p.m. I'm looking forward to see good friends, learnof news on our genealogical searches, and hear Roswita Niessner speak about growing up as a German Russian in Germany.

Roswita has a unique history among German Russians. Most who survived the famines and the Bolsheviks came to the Americas. Others who remained in Russia were sent to Siberian work camps. I am interested to hear of her experiences and will be sure to write about it when I return.

On a bittersweet note, two longstanding members of our organization, Herb Babitzke and Golden Purvis, have passed away since our last meeting. I did not have the opportunity to know Golden well, but Herb was instrumental in encouraging my involvement with this organization and I shall be forever grateful. Both of these men are greatly missed. The Arizona Sun Chapter sends our condolences to both of their families.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Convention Update

Besides the usual sites for the International Convention of Germans from Russia, there is a new blog which will provide up to the minute news on the convention. More details on the speakers, topics and workshops will be added over the next few weeks.

Be sure to check it out and come back frequently for updates. I know many of my friends are looking forward to reuniting in Medicine Hat.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Destination: Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada

My next travel adventure is in the works....the International Convention of Germans from Russia starts on June 15 in Medicine Hat, Alberta. I've been invited to speak about my travels in Argentina and am extremely fortunate I will have the support of most of the group who traveled with me.
I have forty-five minutes to describe a fabulous two week trip. The challenge is to cover all aspects of the trip...the villages...the sites...and most importantly, the people we met.
While I do believe my presentation would make it worth your while to go to Medicine Hat, there is just so much more to see. According to the latest AHSGR newsletter, "This will be only the third time in our long history that we have traveled to Canada to share our heritage. The planning committee has woven a red carpet of welcome entitled, 'Experience of a Life and Time.' Beginning with Welcome Night, we will celebrate our rich heritage with music, history, culture, and traditions while greeting our friend and neighbors."
The list of keynote speakers, programs and workshops is a genealogist's dream. The tours include Cypress Hills Vineyard and Winery, the Historic Clay District, a tour of Medicine Hat, and a self-guided tour of the Germans from Russia historic sites.
Make plans now to attend! If you haven't updated your passport, do it now or there is still time to request one. Here are also some important links about the program and hotels for further investigation. Hope to see you there!

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Who says accordions are extinct?

Random Observations of the week:

1) Medicine Hat, Alberta and Rapid City, South Dakota are calling my name. Travel plans are shaping up quite nicely. The German from Russia conferences are a must to attend for me this year.

2) I love grocery shopping at Sunflower Market on Southern. No rush, no fuss. Ideal for the new economic times. Good produce at farmer's market prices. Great way to start my week.

3) Visits to the dentist are never fun, but extremely valuable.

4) Tropical Smoothie on McQueen is open again and Sunny Day makes a great dinner.

5) Lettuce wraps and peace on earth tea at Mandala Tea Room combine for a fabulous dinner. Toni & Guy's created a whole new look for me, too

5) Accordions are making a comeback, not just with Andy Kroneberger and my German Russian friends. I ended the week at arena in Glendale, Arizona where Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band played for over three hours straight. It was the second night of the Working on a Dream tour.
I retraced my life through his songs and relished the music and memories. I can never hear Tenth Avenue Freeze Out without picturing myself at The Gym near Marquette University, sitting next to Carol Cassano, Carol Mellon, Sharon Doherty and Hugh Walsh. Sharon and Hugh were from New Jersey and when Tenth Avenue played, energy exploded throughout the room.
Bruce's encore included American Land which featured two accordions! One of the best known rock icons of our time used the unique sound of an accordion on his latest CD. Outstanding stuff! The accordion lives on in unlikely venues. Precious entertainment. Great fun. If your children or grandchildren think the accordion is not cool, have them check out the latest Springsteen. I have to listen to more.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Friday the 13th Part III

You would think indulgence at a chocolate factory would be enough. But, no, we still needed lunch. Where to go?

We headed to the car and drove directly to the heart of Historic Downtown Glendale. On my left, I saw the name Murphy and assumed it was an Irish pub. Mom agreed it was worth checking out so I turned around and found a close parking spot on the street. We walked to the restaurant and discovered the name was Haus Murphy.

Haus Murphy is not an Irish pub. Haus Murphy is a German biergarten of a restaurant which matches my heritage perfectly. We were delighted! We chose the bratwurst and enjoyed. The warm, delicious apple streudel topped off a great meal. For their full menu, visit

We are not the only ones who think Haus Murphy is worthy of a visit. Guy Fieri of the Food Network agrees and featured Haus Murphy on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives on February 23rd.

So, this third update is the finale for Friday the 13th. Stay tuned for more updates soon.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Friday the 13th Part II

I spent last Friday the 13th with my Mom and we visited historic downtown Glendale. I've lived in Arizona for nearly seven years and never stopped in this quaint area.

First owned and operated Cerreta Candy Factory. Chocolate and candy for any occasion. The tour offered many free samples including licorice caramel, peanut butter fudge...need I go on? This place has all of the sweetness of Willie Wonka, but, unfortunately, no oompah loompahs. I couldn't leave the place without buying plenty of chocolate including the Wine Pairing Chocolates.

And, you don't have to visit the store to indulge in these treats. Everything can be ordered from their web site at

How about Chocolate Easter Bunnies on Parade?

Candy Tribute to Lucy and Ethel

Craving chocolate yet? Remember, Easter is just around the corner and who knows what the Bunny will bring. Check back tomorrow for Friday the 13th Part III...

Friday, March 13, 2009

Can it be Friday the 13th of March already? A month of updates is due...

It's been a month since I posted, which is highly unusual for me. Have I been busier than normal? Maybe. Mom is visiting, I am still editing Andy's book, work has been non-stop, we finished putting together the Spring edition of the AHSGR Journal and somewhere in between all of that, my updates fell through the cracks. I hope to make up for it today.

One of the highlights of the last month was the Winter Arizona Sun Chapter meeting with featured my friend Andy Kroneberger. Andy's quest to find his family spans the globe from Minnesota, Russia, Germany and Argentina.

He presented "A Man Called Andreas, One Family's Struggle in Bolshevik Russia." Andy shared the story of the Kronebergers and Stoessels from Dehler. He detailed their struggles to leave Russia and their transition to the Americas. During his investigation he researched his family tree back to 1719 in Gochsheim, Germany. Andy is the author of "I Found My Family" and the upcoming "A Man Called Andreas" which will be published in the spring. His story moved the hearts of everyone in the audience.

If you read my blog in February, you saw Andy's musical talent on the accordion. He is not only a gifted musician, writer and speaker, but a fabulous painter. I included his painting of the Volga River as he believes it looked from Dehler.

There will be more to come from this author and I am avidly editing the book to rush it to the printing press. Will keep you posted.

Friday, February 13, 2009

President Jimmy Carter....Who can argue with peace?

I attended a Presidential book signing today when Changing Hands bookstore hosted President Jimmy Carter this evening. The staff had over 1600 books on hand. The secret service coordinated everyting and made the hour wait pass swiftly.

President Carter spoke for a few mintues and then signed his new book We Can Have Peace in the Holy Land. It was great to meet the former President especially since my mother and daughter accompanied me.

Carter's message was short and sweet. And, whatever your politics, who can argue with peace? Besides knowledge of our own family history, what better legacy can we leave for our children?

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Busy Weekend....

Yes, I am watching the Super Bowl but need to share part of my Saturday with you. I drove to Florence to spend time with Andy and Joyce Kroneberger at their winter home. I met Andy and Joyce in Hays, Kansas almost two years ago at the AHSGR convention. Last year Andy and I started to work together to publish his book A Man Called Andreas. We met yesterday to discuss the book and his upcoming talk at the Arizona Sun meeting. Here is the information from the AHSGR web site on Andy's presentation.

February 21, 2009
Our guest speaker, Andy Kroneberger, will present "A Man Called Andreas, One Family's Struggle in Bolshevik Russia." Andy will share the story of the Kronebergers and Stoessels from Dehler detailing their struggles to leave Russia and their transition to the Americas. Andy's quest to find his family has taken him from Minnesota to Germany and Argentina. During his investigation he researched his family tree back to 1719 in Gochsheim, Germany. Andy is the author of "I Found My Family" and the upcoming "A Man Called Andreas" which will be published in the spring. Retrieved from

We took a short break from the book and Andy shared a few songs with me. I hope you enjoy the video above.

Wouldn't it be great if Andy plays music for us at the Sun Meeting? If you are in the Phoenix area on Feb. 21, please stop at the Glendale Foothills Library at 19055 N. 57th Avenue, Glendale, Arizona. As you may remember, Glendale was the site of the Super Bowl last year.

Also, GO CARDS! LOVE THE INTERCEPTION. (Ok, the first interception...)

Sunday, January 18, 2009

On the road again....our Argentina bus experience

Of course I'm watching the Arizona Cardinal game, and reveling in the fact that Jordin Sparks' ancestors on her mother's side are Germans from Russia. Isn't it amazing how we all connect in one way or another? However the Cardinals are not my focus for this particular update. Yesterday I mentioned how much we did in Argentina during our two week trip. One of the reasons for our extensive excursion was our bus. We traveled on a double decker bus from the time we left Buenos Aires until we arrived back at the airport. Our drivers, Eduardo and Carlos, were crucial to our safe and successful trip. The first picture below shows Eduardo next to Tim and Carlos is in the second picture. There was definitely a great deal of time on the bus. We used this time to talk, laugh, plan and compare notes on our ancestry. Tim, aka Mr. Congeniality, led many of our conversations as he spoke German. He initiated numerous sing-alongs as demonstrated in some of the vidoe I took. We found a common theme in song. Unfortunately, the best video is over 333MB so I cannot upload it to this blog. I will gladly provide a CD of the song segment to anyone who is interested.
I learned how to sleep on the bus during two overnight rides. But, how can one sleep with the views like the one below?

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Asociacion Argentina de Descendientes de Alemanes Del Volga

Yes, it's 2009 and I continue to have more to share about Argentina. How did we do so much in two weeks? Two overnight bus trips certainly maximized our travel time. Part of the fun of writing about Argentina is uploading a few of the many pictures I shot yet there are so many more. El Argentino(the newspaper of Gualeguaychu, provincia of Entre Rios) wrote about our visit in their November 13 edition.

Our evening with the local asociacion included conversation, music and barocks. The president of the asociacion was Juan Hermann and I sat at a table with his father Juan. Juan's family immigrated to Argentina from the wiesenseite of the Volga but did not know the specific village. He recited his family tree through his grandparents. Since my grandmother was a Herrmann from Marienthal I wanted to find a connection. I have yet to locate the piece of paper we used to write down with his grandparent's names and hope to find it soon.

Before our visit to the asociation, we toured a yerba matte store. The idea was to buy a yerba matte gourd and sample some of Argentina's best fare. I saw gourds made of every size and color and even some created from the hooves of cattle.

When Judy sampled some of what Tim purchased, she said it tasted like dirt. I hadn't planned to sample the mate but when I did, I thought it was much better than dirt. I love herbal teas and will have to buy some instant yerba mate to see if I can acquire the taste.

Of course, I didn't have to work hard to acquire a taste for Malbec. For more information on malbec, visit any of the following sites:

Thanks to Edith for the lovely picture of the group enjoying Malbec on the balcony of the Aguay Hotel ( the river in Gualeguaychu.

I continue to listen to my DVDs and CDs to master the Spanish language. In the meantime, I added the Google Translate option directly to my blog. There is much more to come on Argentina especially as I pull information together for the Journal publication. Tomorrow, focus on our bus experience.