Posted in Ancestors, Genealogy, Genealogy DNA

To DNA…or Not To DNA….That is the question!!

I have been pondering having my genealogical DNA done for quite a while now….and yesterday I took the plunge!!

It really wasn’t that I didn’t WANT to have my DNA done…I truly have wanted to get into the spit pool for a long time.  Its just that circumstances always seemed to block that path. Well, Friday an AncestryDNA kit arrived in my mailbox.  Saturday morning I sent it back to them.  It really was a fairly easy process…And I thought I would share all the details with my followers.

AncestryDNA Kit
AncestryDNA Kit

Here it is…my kit.  The box was smaller than I expected…I’m not sure why I thought it was going to be a big box with a complicated process, but I did.  I was very pleasantly surprised.  It was about 5″x7″…very compact and well thought out.  I held on to it for a few minutes, thinking about all the possibilities of what the test might prove and the doors it might open.  …then I opened it.

The first thing you see when you open the kit..
The first thing you see when you open the kit.

This was the first thing that I saw when I opened the kit…its a very easy to understand instruction folder that walks you thru every step of the process.  Step 1 – Activate Kit Online.  This was super easy!!  It only took about 5 minutes and that’s because I was nervous and double and triple checked everything I typed or clicked on.  I set it to connect to a family tree I already had on, but will be uploading my correct tree in the next few weeks and will switch the connection to that one soon.  You MUST have a tree to connect it to or you won’t get any connecting results.  To activate the kit and connect it to you, there is a 15-digit code that is on the collection tube that you use.  It’s your DNA’s identity code.  They advise that you mark down the code on the space provided on this instruction folder…Mine also had it typed out on a sticker on the back of the folder….So far…EASY PEASY!

Under the Welcome/Instruction folder.
Under the Welcome/Instruction folder.

This was the rest of the kit…The collection tube and stabilizer on the left, the plastic “bio-hazard” bag, and the Postage Paid mailer box.  Really simple so far.  I took each item out and checked out the process.  I can do this!!  I finished reading the instructions and immediately realized I GOOFED!!!  As I was doing this I was eating breakfast.  There is a big warning on “Step 2 – Gather DNA” that says “Do NOT eat, drink, smoke, or chew gum for 30 minutes before giving your saliva sample.”  DARN IT!!  Oh well…can’t change it now…I’ve already started eating my oatmeal…so I’m finishing my breakfast and then I’ll go brush my teeth to make sure no oatmeal gets into the test.

You always have to wait for the good things in life.
You always have to wait for the good things in life.

Tick Tock….Tick Tock…I sat watching the timer waiting for at least 30 minutes so I could begin my test.  I could’ve used my time a little better by doing laundry, washing dishes, or getting the house cleaned up…but instead I sat and watched the time slowly count down….Tick Tock…Tick Tock….BEEP BEEP BEEP!!!  SUCCESS…It’s been 30 minutes….

I took a couple extra minutes to catch my breath….And I slowly opened the container that held the collection vial and the stabilizing solution.  The instructions state simply to “Fill the tube with saliva to the black wavy line”…That’s easy enough.  OK…Maybe not.  All of a sudden my mouth went dry!  I’m panicking.  I remembered reading on a couple Facebook pages that people had to do their DNA test over because they had too many bubbles…not enough sample…contaminated sample…etc.  “What if” started racing thru my brain.  I can’t mess this up…my ancestors are counting on me!!!  I took another deep breath…and started spitting into the tube….as I did it I realized it really wasn’t that bad…they only needed  about 1/4 teaspoon…which isn’t much.  I kept tapping the vial on the table to try to pop some of the bubbles…and it was filling pretty quick.  It only took about 5 minutes to make sure that the sample was just above the wavy line (not including the bubbles)…and then I relaxed a bit.  The picture is a bit deceiving…the collection area isn’t the entire bottom of the vial…the collection area is really only about a 1/4 inch in depth…The bottom of the tube is empty!

Fill with spit to the wavy line (not including the bubbles)...
Fill with spit to the wavy line (not including the bubbles)…

Next step is to take the funnel off the top and replace the funnel with the “cap”…it contains a stabilizing solution to stabilize the DNA in my saliva….

Take off the funnel and screw on the stabilizer solution...
Take off the funnel and screw on the stabilizer solution…

See the blue tint to the cap…that’s the solution.  When you tighten the cap, this solution drops into your DNA sample…

When the cap is tight the fluid will drop...shake it for at least 5 minutes.
When the cap is tight the fluid will drop…shake it for at least 5 minutes.

Perfect!  So far so good…..Now I just have to shake it for at least 5 seconds to mix the stabilizing solution with my DNA….this helps the lab process the sample easier.

Insert vial into the protective bag...
Insert vial into the protective bag…

Now its just a simple packaging….drop the vial in the protective Bio-Hazard Bag….

Put in Postage Free box...
Put in Postage Free box…

Pop it in the postage paid mailing box….

Close and seal it up.....its ready to go!
Close and seal it up…..its ready to go!

And seal it with the self adhesive strip…Super Simple…Very little room for error.  Now there is just one more step for the day…I jumped in my Jeep and drove to the Post Office…

Drop in the nearest mailbox....
Drop in the nearest mailbox….

I think at this point I started to breathe again.  I kept thinking about my ancestors and what they might think of this whole process.  Would they be grossed out?  Would they be scared of the technology?  I don’t think any of them would understand it….and that’s ok.  Right at the moment I’m having trouble wrapping my head around the whole process.

Unfortunately, now the waiting begins.  It’s going to take 6-8 weeks before I receive any results…and I’m still not sure how to interpret them…but I’m learning.  I’ve been doing the research…watching the webinars and videos…and taking lots of notes.  It might be easier once I have my own results back to use as an example.

I will chronicle my process here on my blog as this whole thing begins to unfold.  I will share EVERYTHING!  Where my ancestors came from…what the ethnicity results are…all the good and the bad that will soon be revealed.  So stay tuned!!!

Until the results come back I will continue to move my research forward.  Now that I’m back here in my blog I will help you all follow my steps…my research…my struggles…my questions…my trips…and even my failures.  The Genealogy Fanatic is BACK!!!

Posted in Uncategorized

Can Clicking on Leaves Really Find Your Family??? Sometimes!

We’ve all seen the commercials for  “I clicked on a leaf and I found my family!”…what a tag line!  But can it really happen?  Yeah…sometimes!  I’ve clicked on hundreds of  leaves in the past couple years.  I have not found hundreds of new family members because of it…but I have been connected to a couple new cousins and family lines that I had never been in contact with….family lines that were VERY incomplete until the leaves popped up.

One such “Leaf Find” happened almost 2 years ago.  I was clicking on the leaves that were on my tree to see what was there…not expecting to find anything new.  I knew most of what was continually popping up online.  However, today I had a bunch of new leaves…and I always try to remain hopeful that one day I will “Click on a leaf and find my family”.

Click…nope.  Click…nope.  Click…Nope….Whoa…WAIT A MINUTE!!  Hmmm…there’s a spouse I didn’t have before!  COOL!  Wait a minute….there are children…and MORE!  This one could be promising….I wonder who this tree belongs to…and better yet, where did they get their information.

One lesson I’ve learned about the trees on is that they are not all done by the families they represent.  Some people on “Collect” families.  They put information out there on families they know nothing about.  They are strictly “information collectors”.  But the creator of this tree seemed to know almost TOO much about my family.  The only thing that seemed strange was that  my Grandmother was missing from the tree….but it also said that there were 2 living siblings (so I guess one of them could be her).  I decided to try to contact the owner of the tree and see if they really are part of my family.  What would it hurt?  If they weren’t family I could simply walk away.  If they are family…well…that would be a bonus!

So I drafted up a quick email to the owner of the tree.  It’s actually harder to type that kind of an email than it is to make a cold call.  I can stumble my way thru a conversation much easier than trying to sound sane in an email.  How do you type an email that basically says…”Hi Potential Cousin…I was trolling your family tree and I think you skipped over me!”  Instead I sent the following email via Ancestry’s mail service…“Hi, My name is Karen and I have, I believe, a direct connection to your Family Tree.” ….I inserted specific information to prove our connection….and finished up the email with…  Please write back and let me know if we may be related. If we are, I have information to update your Minelli Family Tree.  Thanks!”  

To my surprise, not only did the owner of the tree contact me back within 24 hours…but her opening sentence read…“Hi Karen: I know we are related. My dad was your grandmother’s brother Salvatore (Sam)”  WOW!  That was easy!  HA HA HA….I clicked on a leaf and I found my family!  OK…so it doesn’t happen like that very often…but in this case I’m so glad it did!

I have not yet met this new part of my family…but I’m hoping we can have a mini-reunion this coming summer.  If it happens, you can be sure I’ll be posting information on my blog…so stay tuned!

In the meantime…don’t be afraid to send out those occasional emails thru asking if there is a connection to the owner of a specific tree that has a lot of your family information in it.  You never know when you might “Click on a leaf and find your family”!