Saturday, January 30, 2010

Stories from a 5-year-old

It looks like our family may have a young personal-historian-in-training! My grandson is only 5, but he captured his own thoughts and actually wrote them down. In fairness to his Dad, I do have to say his story may be just a wee bit exaggerated, for effect, I'm sure.

In case you can't read the original, I will take the liberty to interpret it for you here:
[sic] sum tems my dad dzit let me hav iscrm. My dad dz not evr let me hav pop mountain dew. I see my dad laying down.

So the question for you is this: If a 5-year-old can write a story, what's your excuse?

For help getting started today with your own stories, sign up for my free monthly newsletter at

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Start Your Stories

Are you having a problem getting started with your own family stories? You may have very good intentions, but not know exactly how to proceed. Every month, I offer FREE teleclasses on just that topic.

In case you aren't aware, a teleclass is a class that is taught over a telephone. People call into a specific phone number at a set time and enter an Access Code followed by a "#". In my case, the Call-in number is 308-344-6400, Access Code 300645#. Normal long-distance charges will apply, but there is no cost for the actual class.

If you would like to attend, but the day or time is not convenient, please let me know. I am open to adding more teleclasses to fit a variety of schedules. My goal is to encourage people to capture their family stories before it is too late.

Everyone has a story to tell. What is yours?

Monday, January 18, 2010

Interview on Children Author Show

You can listen to a fun interview about my book. Now Playing at : Interview with Beth LaMie about Grannys Guide To Fun and Fabulous Family Stories.

One of the surreal aspects was that usually I do the interviewing, so this was a rather unusual experience for me. Don McCauley of the Author Show was very pleasant during the interview and easy to converse with.

My hope is that more people will hear about my book, website, newsletter and blog. It is very exciting when someone contacts me about my work.

SO the question is, "What is your most vivid memory about growing up?" Feel free to comment below and have fun saving your family stories.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

4 Step Recipe for Family Stories

This post is one I did as a guest columnist today for I hope you enjoy it!

Many of my most vivid memories relate to food. I loved all the family gatherings when I was a kid. With six brothers and sisters, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins all living in a relatively small area, we seemed to get together every week. If the occasion was not for a complete meal, then there had to be “lunch” served with coffee and a variety of scrumptious sweets. I dearly loved sitting quietly nearby so I could hear everyone talk and tell their stories.

To this day, I can’t see or smell cinnamon rolls without thinking of Mom and all her delicious baked goods. Grandma always kept a clear glass container like a huge brandy snifter in the center of her table, filled to the brim with several kinds of homemade cookies. Whenever she felt we didn’t eat the cookies quickly enough, she topped all of them with chocolate icing, one of my personal favorites.

Connected with those fabulous food memories are the memorable family stories that were told and retold. I never tired of hearing favorite stories from bygone days.

Food is one great way for YOU to open up a treasure chest of memories.

1. Get the stories behind the food

What do you think of when asked about your favorite food? Is it something that your grandmother made, like apple crisp? Or is it your Uncle Pete’s awesome barbecued ribs? Or how about your neighbor’s chocolate fudge? Or is it something you make yourself, like a peanut butter, jelly and banana sandwich? One of my own family favorites is fresh lemon meringue pie, which Mom made better than anyone else.

Whatever it is, everyone has favorite foods. Many of these foods make us think of when we were younger. But did you ever wonder about the stories behind the food? Who came up with the original recipe for apple crisp? And who on earth decided to add raisins or nuts to it? You can get some wonderful stories when you pose questions like these to cooks you know.

2. Use the power of food to recall memories

Food can be a powerful trigger to help you recall memories. If someone mentions pumpkin pie, do you think of Thanksgiving dinner? Do gingerbread cookies remind you of Christmas? Do hard-boiled eggs lead to thoughts of Easter? Whenever I see pecan pie, I always think about shelling pecans by the bushel (it sure seemed like a bushel, anyway) so we’d have pecans all winter.

You can use food to remind your family circle of stories you want to hear. One idea is to throw a cookie baking party. Everyone has fun, you get to make cookies (or pizza, or pretzels, or whatever you like best) and you dig up stories from the past. Best of all, you get to enjoy your favorite foods and favorite people at the same time.

Whenever people get together, they like to talk and tell stories. You can make up a list of questions to ask for more background about your own memories. Just remember to either write down what people say or use a recorder to capture it. That’s a whole lot easier than trying to remember all the details later.

3. Use family gatherings for more story-telling

Any gathering of your friends and family is a great chance to capture more stories. Many times, this is a fun opportunity for group discussions. Getting people to talk about their favorite foods will always lead to good memories. Ask about the first time Aunt Alice made a favorite recipe like macaroni and cheese and burned it. Where did she learn how to fix it? Some families may have their own idea of what a dish should be like. For example, one family may like macaroni and cheese from the blue box, but another family might be disappointed if they didn’t get it homemade from scratch with three kinds of cheese. They’re all keys to opening up those memories.

4. Combine family stories and recipes

One way to capture family stories and recipes is to make a little cookbook of your favorite foods. Then you can add stories to go along with the recipes. It’s even more fun to show the original recipe and who made it. Then show any changes that other people made to it.

To get stories from your family circle, you can ask each of them to write down their favorite recipe onto a card. Make sure they include the directions as well. On the other side of the recipe card, ask them to write a few notes about where the original recipe came from. They might also like to give you a photo of the food or the original cook.

Every year we lose someone special from our circle of friends and family. Please keep this in mind: Get started now to save their precious memories before they are lost forever.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Tales of Home and Family

As you know by now, I cherish family stories and the memories they preserve. Today I received great news. I will be one of the contributors on the Simple Marriage Team, covering topics related to Home and Family. How's that for a good fit? I am really excited and my first column will appear on Wednesday, January 13 at

When I was a kid growing up in rural Illinois, I used to love to sit quietly and listen to the adults tell stories. There were no epic tales of heroism, but they taught me about my own family heritage. Those are the stories that I wish someone had recorded for our family.

Since that didn't happen, my goal is to help other people save some of their own precious family stories before they are lost forever. My book (Granny's Guide to Fun & Fabulous Family Stories) offers a whole series of writing exercises to help you get started. It is available for $18.95 plus shipping on my website,

In addition, I offer free teleclasses twice a month that show you how to capture your stories. To find out the details for the calls, please sign up for my newsletter on my website.

Start the New Year off right and plan to start on your own stories!