Sunday, March 31, 2013

Week 7 - Meet the Saads

All my family has arrived!  Although I thought that this would be one of the weeks I would be progress the most on my project, that wasn't exactly the case.  My aunt and cousin arrived from Dubai, my mom's aunt from Lebanon, my mom's uncle from Monaco, my uncle from Houston, my grandma from Canada, and my cousin from Washington D.C. all on Thursday or Friday night.  In addition to this, my sisters were in town from their Spring Break, adding to the madness in my already stuffed house!

Now that my sisters, cousin, and one of my uncles has left, things are starting to settle down in the house.  I know this upcoming week I will be able to talk with my family, especially since I'm off of school for Spring Break.

Although I didn't progress as much as I had hoped, I still had a great time catching up with my family, especially since I usually don't see them more than once a year.  We had a surprise birthday party for my Teta's 75th birthday at the Orange Hill Restaurant.  It was so great to see all of the family together, and even more adorable to find out that my grandparent's were maid-of-honors at each other weddings.  I learned that my parents met each other through their friendship growing up.

I've set a rough schedule for myself for the rest of the duration of this project:

  • Continue talking with my family, collecting pictures this upcoming week, and adding to the family tree
  • Raid the aisles of JoAnn's and sort/group pictures for each scrapbook page
  • The three weeks leading up to AP testing I want to start making the scrapbook and have it all done by the end of AP testing
  • After the scrapbook is done, I will focus on digitalizing pictures and making the Facebook account for my family to enjoy the pictures from all around the world.  I might also digitalize the scrapbook depending on how expensive it is.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Week 6 - Branching Out

This week I finished as much of the family tree as I could by my dad about my ancestors.  I learned that both of my grandparents on my dad’s side were only children.  This surprised me considering how many families on my mom’s side had a lot of kids.  I also learned that my grandma’s dad’s first and last name were the same.  How cool is that?  Honestly, knowing that my grandparents are only children is a bit of a relief.  It will make it a lot easier for me to fully complete the family tree without needing to add an extra twenty branches for their siblings!  The family tree still has a lot of growing to do – once I talk to my grandparents it will be able to really blossom.  Although the family tree only shows names, I am also able to store information for maiden names, birth date, and death date. 

My grandma arrives late tomorrow tonight and the rest of my family – my grandma’s sister and brother, my aunt, and two of my cousins – will arrive from Dubai, Monte Carlo, and Washington D.C. this Thursday.  Time to bust out the sleeping bags!  My sisters also arrived this past Saturday from UCSB for their Spring Break.  The week will be a bit hectic with everyone around but luckily Spring Break is the following week for me.  I will get the bulk of the information from my mom’s side during Spring Break.  This will give me the opportunity to solidify how I am going to make the scrapbook.   

I have also continued to digitalize pictures onto my computer.  I have started a couple of albums.  I am starting to realize that the task is a lot more time consuming than I originally intended.  This will definitely be something that stretches into summer.  Here are a couple of albums I have been working on.  I will soon make subsections within each album to further organize the pictures.  I also want to organize a few of my memories from the past – hence the pictures I compiled from the Culture Fair last year.  I will back up the pictures ASAP in case something happens to my laptop.  I am thinking about creating a Facebook so I can upload all of the pictures and add my family so that they can enjoy them. 

Next week will be hectic with all of my family arriving and with all of the pre-Spring Break tests and projects!  

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Week 5 - The Family Tree

I am so relieved that the pitch is finally over!  It felt like a rain cloud was following me for the past three weeks leading up to the pitch.  Although I thought I would be really nervous while presenting, to my pleasant surprise, I managed to stay calm and tell everyone about my project.  I am so excited for everyone’s project – some of my favorites were Natalie’s idea of crocheting blankets for animals in shelters and Stephen and Ann’s idea of creating an organic skincare line. 

I have successfully been journaling for one week using the app “My Wonderful Days” on my iPhone.  While this doesn't seem like a huge accomplishment, I’m so proud that I've managed to stick with it.  I am hoping to journal at least five times a week to preserve my memories, so that one day, my great-great-great-grandchildren can know how cool their great-great-great-grandma was.  My blog also got a face lift!  I changed the background, layout, and colors to make it more appealing.  I made the background a piece of lined paper to inspire me to continue writing about my day. 

I started making the family tree with the help of my mom and dad.  I never realized how big my family was and how many people I haven’t met.  It was a lot harder than I anticipated.  I started to write it down on a piece of paper… but as you guys can see, that wasn't too successful.  After a quick Google search, I was able to find an awesome website called Family Echo where you make a family tree for free.  I will use this website to keep track of all of the names so that I can easily transfer them to paper for the scrapbook.  The picture on the left shows my struggle making the tree and the picture at the bottom shows a part of the tree I have created on

My grandma is arriving in exactly one week from today – on the 24th!  I haven’t seen her in over a year.  She lives in Canada, and she is one of the sweetest/sassiest/coolest people I know.  I am excited to have her help me with the family tree.  When I spoke to her on the phone she was thrilled for this project and eager to tell me about her life growing up.  Plus, now I can finally learn how to make her delicious Easter cookies!

I've also started to digitalize some pictures… well, I've digitalized ten if that counts for anything.  As pathetic as that sounds, it is so much harder than I anticipated.  I have to scan them one at a time onto a USB drive, crop them, center them, and save them into a document.  I am hoping to find an easier way to do this, like perhaps just taking a picture of the photo with my phone.  Although the quality won’t be as good, I feel like in this case quantity is better than quality.  As long as I find the perfect lighting to photograph the pictures, I don’t think it should be a problem.

I can’t believe it has been five weeks since Mr. Z introduced this project.  I’m so happy with everything that I have learned so far and I can’t wait for everything that I am going to learn throughout this journey.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Week 4 - Up in the Attic

This week I went up into the attic to look through the remainder of the pictures.  Although this seemed like an easy task, when I turned on the attic light I was shocked to see over fifteen boxes filled with pictures.  Each box seemed to have triple the amount as the one before it.

These pictures ranged from super hipster pictures of my mom in her college days when she went to the University of Cairo to pictures of my sisters and I camping out in our backyard.  Each picture is a story in itself.  I was able to group a lot of the pictures based on the person so that when my family arrives at the end of March I'll be able to ask them the story behind it.

Looking through the pictures has inspired to me to start a journal.  I'm notorious for starting journals and stopping after the first entry, but this time I really want to go through with it.  Although my life seems bitterly dull (and probably is), I can't imagine how interesting my stories will be ten years from now... or fifty years from now... or two hundred years from now.  When I look at pictures of ten-year-old me, I can barely remember the story behind the pictures.  Time to preserve the memories!

I downloaded the app "My Wonderful Days" on my iPhone.  The app lets me type journal entries on my phone, add pictures, export my entries in a PDF file, and back it up through WiFi.  The best part is that it is synced with iCloud, so that if I ever lose my phone, I will still be able to access my entries.

I have to admit, I haven't been making as much progress as I had hoped.  By this point, I expected to have a lot of scrapbook supplies purchased and a rough idea for how I want the pages of it to be organized. Now that I have finished my SAT, I am ready to dive in.  I am hoping to go scrapbook supply shopping this weekend and to start talking to my family to gather names for the family tree.  I anticipate having an idea of how to organize the scrapbook after my family arrives towards the end of March.

It is beyond adorable seeing how excited my grandparents are for this project.  I talked with my Teta who lives in Canada about the project and her reaction was priceless.  She promised to bring some pictures when she visits.  I can't wait to see her!

In addition to preserving the memories, I want to get some of my family's recipes.  Both my mom and Teta are amazing cooks, and I want to save their recipes so they can always be enjoyed.

It's crazy to think that it has already been a month since we started the DIY project.  I can't believe that the pitch is coming up this Friday.  Although I have no idea what my visual is going to be or how I want to present, I'm sure I'll get through it.  Maybe I should just show a picture of myself when I was a toddler...

Who doesn't love an adorable baby picture after all?

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Week 3 - Meet my Auntie Mona!

This week, I spoke with my lovely Auntie Mona, my dad’s sister.  She told me so many stories about her life growing up in Lebanon during the civil war – everything from baking Easter cookies with her grandma to watching the man living in the apartment above them shoot rats scurrying in the pile of trash.

Although I thought that all of my relatives on my dad’s side of the family were born in either Lebanon or Palestine, I learned that my grandpa was actually born in the Dominican Republic.  My grandpa’s father, along with everyone on the ship, thought that he was in America.  Oh, how time and technology have changed.  I also learned that my grandma had a miscarriage when she was in her third trimester in Lebanon.  She would have been the sixth child my grandparents had.  It gives me chills to think about having another aunt and breaks my heart that my grandparents still tear up when they talk about it.

Talking to my aunt made me realize how… for lack of a better word, weird time is.  It’s hard to picture my parents, or grandparents, or their great-great grandparents as teenagers growing up.  Hearing their stories makes me gain a new appreciation for time and everything I have.  My mom told me that my grandma would get in trouble if she listened to the radio.  Whenever my grandma would want to hang out with a friend, her dad would spit on the ground and tell her to be back before his spit dried.  It makes me think about what I’ll be telling the next generation.  You should have seen what life was like when I grew up.  All we had were iPhones and 3D televisions.

I’m thrilled to say that my grandma, her sister, my aunt, and two cousins on my mom’s side of the family have all booked their tickets to come visit us!  I couldn’t be more excited, and the timing worked out perfectly for this project.  I usually only see them once a year, so every moment with them is always a good time.  All of them will arrive the last week of March.  LAX, here I come! 

I anticipate this upcoming week to be a little slow.  I am taking the SATs this Saturday, so it will be hard to focus time and energy on this project.  Once I finish the test, I will be ready to dive in headfirst and start raiding the aisles of Joann’s for art supplies to make my scrapbook.  I've also decided I want to make a family tree that goes as far back as it possibly can to preserve my ancestors' memories.  Week four, here I come!