Sunday, January 6, 2013

Happy New Year and New Stuff I've Discovered

Happy New Year to you. My lack of posts for more than a month is because I've been busy with holidays, family, and new stuff I've discovered during my leisure time.  Now, to my discoveries:

First off, I discovered a $29 device to convert VHS and cassette tapes to digital media, downloads to the computer,  CDs and DVDs.

I ordered  the Media Saver and Converter on-line and used it to convert an audio cassette recording of my mother's autobiography she created in 1998 and put it on a CD along with pictures of her from long ago.  I found the previously unknown recording early last year when I was going to throw out  my cassette tapes. This one had no identification and luckily,  I listened to each tape before discarding them when I was shocked to hear my mother's voice.  She began the tape on January16, 1998, the 18th birthday of her "favorite grandson" and she told the story of her teenage years living in depression-era Kansas and her migration to California.
My mother, Hellyn (c. 1946)
She got up to WW II when she enlisted and served in the Women Marines and the tape ended. She passed away in January, 1999.  I wanted to preserve her audio for her grandchildren and my sister, so this device did the trick. I will now do the same for old VHS tapes of my family.

Second, I discovered Windows Live Movie Maker. OK, for all you younger bloggers who are totally tech saavy, maybe you make movies from your Smart Phone all the time.  But for us older folks, this is a miracle.  So easy and user friendly to put your photos, videos, audio,and  music together.  It's available on your newer PC with Windows Essentials and you can select the application when you are in your media files opening photos or runnig a slide show.  Otherwise, you can get a free download here. I put my mother's audio with pictures of her and family from the 1940's to the present, then I added music and titles, captions, and credits.  It was a lot of fun.  I sent these CD's off to my family as Christmas presents. 

Third, I discovered a website that has unlocked the mystery of my husband's origins.  My husband was adopted when he was a baby and although he had a birth certificate which identified his birth mother and father and their parents names, he really didn't have a means to explore historical documents to find out more abut his birth family.  In 2008, we stopped in Salt Lake City and visited the Mormon Library with all their records of family history. We found some census data from 1930 that helped us identify some information about his father and grandparents and an aunt. Ron was born in 1940 and the US Census personal data for 1940 (they do a census every ten years) had not been released to the public.  And there it remained until the 1940 Census data was released in 2012 and I happened onto for several hours of browsing January 3rd.  The user friendly tools on provide "hints" that linked me to other Family trees and documents and I was able to built a Family Tree going back to the 18th century in just a few hours. Then I was able to connect with the owner of one of the Family Trees with Ron's father and mother and siblings (yes, he had two sisters and a brother he had never known about!)  She is married to Ron's nephew and she has photos and documents about his family that she is giving us.  She will also connect us to his last surviving sister.  Ron's father had passed away at 29 years old and before Ron was born.  We did not know why he died nor why Ron was given up for adoption.  Now all the pieces of the puzzle were being revealed for the first time.  Ron also found that his lineage is Austrian and Slovakian and Catholic (he had thought he might be a Ukranian Jew).  I 've spent hours on building all the various branches of my family tree and connecting with other relatives. 

We had a very nice family holiday with my daughters, Amanda and Mary, over for Christmas with their men, Matt and Malcolm. 

Ron opening his presents

Matt and Mary came over from Bloomfield, NM

Amanda and Malcolm

Ron and I

On December 27th, Ron's youngest daughter, Anne,  from Minnesota arrived with grandchildren, Will (9) and Milla (4) .  We visited friends on the Santo Domingo Pueblo Dec. 28th and watched the dances celebrating Christmas.  We enjoyed their hospitality and lunch with red chile stew, home-made tortillas and tamales.  What an experience for everyone.  Next day, we took Ron's daughter and the kids to Sandia Ski Resort for an all-day ski lesson.  They did great and are ready to go to the next level when they get back to Minnesota. 
Anne learning to ski

Will skiing downhill on the "bunny" slope


Milla was a natural

I skied, too, and it was great fun on a perfect sunny and windless cold day. That evening, we enjoyed a great meal at the new Vinaigrette restaurant in Old Town Albuquerque and toured the River of Lights at the Albuquerque BioPark botancial gardens. 

The next day, Dec. 30th, we had Amanda and Malcolm join us for a Holiday Dinner of Prime Rib at our house.  December 31st brought fresh snow and the children played and sledded on the powder.

We visited the Museum of Natural History and Science (a favorite for Will) where a wonderful exhibit on the history of computer science and the development of the personal computer in Albuquerque had opened.  We also saw the 3-D Dynamax film, Flying Monsters, about prehistoric flying dinosaurs.

On New Year's Eve, we celebrated with family and friends at home, but everyone was in bed by 9:30 PM (except Will who tried to stay up until midnight).  On New Year's Day, we watched the classic  "A Christmas Story" on DVD together as a family before we had to take Anne and the kids to the airport for their return flight to Minnesota. 

Happy Holidays from New Mexico

I hope you had a wonderful New Year celebration where you were.  May 2013 bring us more peace and understanding to the world!


  1. Great new "discoveries." And holidays with all the family. We've been to the Natural History Museum and BioPark after visiting Barb sister in Phoenix a few years back. I really liked both Albuquerque and Santa Fe

    1. I hope you will return...hasta la vista.

  2. Happy New Year, Vicki.

    I believe we are at the sunrise of a new age in 2013. Any conflicts or crises that now exist will be playing out to their final resolution. The world will know peace and prosperity for all very soon.

    1. A wonderful prediction, Paul. May it be so, even if it only happens in our personal lives. Blessings to you and may your music enrich...