Moving Stories

Moving Stories


In late 2007, I was sitting with a letter from my landlord that my rent was going up, watching a news story about how drastically house prices had dropped. A few months later I was buying my first house.
“My little house” has been my home, my office, my base for over 13 years. If you’ve ever moved you know that packing up years of life, and business, is a lot. I’ve laughed, I’ve cried, I’ve shared stories. I was lucky to have the help of Lisa Beavens from Home to Sweet Home to go through all the stuff I inherited from my grandparents and father.

Just like our videos it has been a great time to look back, but also look forward to the next adventure.

We are moving!

But only across the river to Wisconsin. We will still be serving the St. Croix Valley area and as also are available for travel.

My Little House - we are moving

The Dog Days of Summer

The Dog Days of Summer
I have often heard this saying; it always conjures up images of days too hot to move. But according to the Farmers’ Almanac, “The phrase is actually a reference to the fact that, during this time, the Sun occupies the same region of the sky as Sirius, the brightest star visible from any part of Earth and part of the constellation Canis Major, the Greater Dog. This is why Sirius is sometimes called the Dog Star.”
(Trying so hard not to geek out with a Harry Potter reference here.)

 In 2021 this falls between July 23rd and August 11th. There is no doubt that it has been hot here in the Midwest. But we have not been lying around. We have been busy telling the stories of businesses and non-profits. Luckily, mostly, in air-conditioned rooms. We even got to film an actual dog, a pit bull named Ben. If you’re a dog advocate, you should check out our client, Doggone Insurance.
Keeping this dog craziness going, Amanda’s sister Kelly just got a 9-week old puppy named Enzo. So, Amanda gets to be a puppy aunt, all the fun, none of the responsibility. Which is good, because puppies this young are a lot of fun, but also a lot of work.

We hope that you are enjoying your dog days of summer! And staying as cool as possible. 


You Are Your Brand

You Are Your Brand

I am part of a Women’s Business Bridge connection group. Four professional women sharing ideas, struggles, and accountability. Recently I was telling them the story and meaning of my new tattoo. My grandmother’s last words, “and then where are we going”, in her handwriting.

When Kristina of Kristina Lynn Photography said “I love it, you are your brand”.
I don’t think there is any better compliment.

When you are your brand you are selling yourself, which can feel like bragging. It can also be hard to know what makes what you do so unique and special, because to you it’s everyday, it’s who you are. A great way to overcome both of these is to share the story of what you do, why you do it, and of the clients you work with, and their experience working with you.
This will attract not just new clients, but your top 20%.
The ones you LOVE working with and make the job easy.

These are the business clients I want to work with, those who are their brand and their story, passion, and the way they work attracts their top 20% clients.

Are you your brand?
How are you sharing your story?

Amandas tatto and brand

Everyone is Irish on Saint Patrick’s Day

If you have taken the Ancestry DNA test you might know that they recently updated their reference samples and your results may have changed. Your DNA didn’t change, just the nationalities they attribute to different segments.  The first time I took the test I was 19% Irish. I wasn’t surprised, as I have found many Irish ancestors, but my maternal grandmother was surprised she was so Irish, and if you have watched my About video you know I took her to Ireland to prove to her she was Irish and that trip was the inspiration for the name Lead Sheep Productions.

In the most recent update both of our results shifted to being less Irish and more Scottish. At first I was surprised, but then I remembered the term “Scotch Irish.” Many Scottish first immigrated to Ireland before coming to the United States, sometimes for many generations. As I mentioned in my blog, Am I German, our ancestors moved, or were invaded, a lot more then we think when we were are looking back at where our ancestors came from.

DNA can be fun and helpful. I learned a lot about my Irish 2nd great grandmother, Mary Lynch that I would never have know without information from a cousin match. But the truth is we all share 99.9% of our DNA and are more alike then different.

So even though I’m a wee bit less Irish this year, down to 11%, I will still celebrate the traditions of the ancestors that came before me, and that everyone is Irish on Saint Patrick’s day.

What are some of your Saint Patrick’s day traditions?


Amanda is Irish

How are we related? An explanation of 2nd Cousins once removed.

How are we related?
As we gather for the holidays, we will be spending time with family: parents, siblings, grandparents, and “cousins”. One of the questions I am asked most is about cousins? What is a 1st or 2nd cousin and what’s with the whole “removed thing”?
The first thing you need to know is your common ancestor.
If you share parents…you are siblings
If you share grandparents…you are 1st cousins
If you share great-grandparents…you are 2nd cousins
If you share great-great-grandparents….you are 3rd cousins
and so on…
The whole “removed thing” is to denote different generations. How is my 1st cousins’ son related to me? Our common ancestors are my grandparents but his great-grandparents. You start with the closer relationship, in this case, grandparent, making him my first cousin, and then you “remove” the relationship one generation, first cousin once removed. His child would be my first cousin twice removed.Here is another example. The picture below is my grandmother, Janice, and her “cousin” Steph at the old farm which has been in our family for generations. It was owned by Steph’s great-grandparents and its where my grandmother’s grandparents meet. It’s very cool that it is still in our family and I believe part of the reason we are still connected. Their common ancestors are Nelson and Mary. They are my grandmother’s great-grandparents and Steph’s great-great-grandparents.
So how are they related?
Great-grandparents, the closer relationship, means 2nd cousins, the extra generation makes them once removed.
Can you figure out how I am related to Steph?
Still a bit confused? Here is an example of how to map out the generations to figure out the answer.
We hope you have a wonderful holiday with your family and friends. And that you get to impress them with your new knowledge of cousins.

My Grandma Janice and Cousin Steph at “The Old Farm”

Is Social Media New?

Is social media new?

I have been working on an article for the Minnesota Genealogist about my second great grandmother, Minnie House. An excellent source for piecing together her complicated story has been

As I searched for her name in the years and locations she once lived, I had to laugh at the results of lines from newspaper articles that were basically status updates.

“Mrs. Minnie House of Rice Lake spent Monday evening in the city visiting Mrs. Fred Blume.” The Dunn County News 20 Aug 1914

People have always been interested in who’s who, what they are doing, and where they are going. And I am thankful for every time my ancestor’s “status” was preserved. I always say family history is so much more than names and dates. It’s about real people that lived real lives, and these articles help us piece together the story of those lives.

It also made me wonder…what will future generations know about or think about me if they were reading my status updates?
What story does our social media tell?
Is it the story we want to tell?
and the message we want to leave?


Lead Sheep productions logo

You can’t go back…

You can’t go back…
In my early twenties I worked at Paisley Park Studios for the artist Prince. As you can imagine it was an interesting experience. I often tell people, and Anne Hathaway’s character says in the Devil Wears Prada, “I learned a lot”. It was a very different life from what I live now. Since Price’s death in 2016 the people who worked for him started a non-profit called the PRN Alumni. Their mission is to continue Prince’s philanthropy, especially around music education. Last week they held the Funk n Roll fundraiser. I was excited to attend and reconnect with friends from that time in my career.
As fun as it is to reconnect it is also strange to go back. People who I used to speak to multiple times a day have now become strangers. Stories are told about you that you would handle differently now that you are older and, hopefully, a little wiser. None of us are the same person we were all those years ago.
There is also a big benefit to going back. It is interesting to see how the experience shaped who you are today, to laugh a little at your younger self, and to see the path others have taken. Each chapter in our story is important to the whole story and guides us to who we really want to be.
You really can’t go back, because it is not about a place, but who you were at that time. But taking the time to look at that chapter can help you understand who you are and where you are going. It can also be, as my clients have said, in regards to personal histories, a very cathartic experience.

Grandpa Don’s Gift

Grandpa Don was the subject of my first personal history video, which I made for his and Grandma Ethel’s 60th anniversary. He didn’t say much, preferring to let her tell the stories. Until he was able to tell me about his cars. He had a list of every car he ever owned with what he paid for it and what he sold it for.  He talked about how hard it was to find a car after he came back from the war and how he had to junk the first couple he bought.

The family used to draw names at Christmas. One year grandpa asked me what I would like so he could tell the person who got my name. I said “if it was you I’d like you to make me something.” He was a carpenter and had made other things for the family. He was a child of the depression who valued saving and fixing and repairing stuff over buying new. 

Christmas came and I opened my gift, it was a one-foot stool. On the bottom, written on an envelope, because why buy paper when they send it with the junk mail for free?, were the words “this is made out of recycled wood, stretch a buck.” He had made the whole thing from wood he had on hand. To be fair, I think he had enough scrap wood in his house to build a whole new house. This is one of my favorite gifts, and I still cherish it. 

If you see me at an event where I am showing my videos you can ask to see the stool, as the television I use fits on it perfectly!
If you follow Lead Sheep Productions on social media (FacebookInstagramTwitter), you know that this month, we are celebrating the men in our lives. It is incredible when we take time to understand and realize how much each person has contributed to our story.

We are looking for speaking opportunities.

Lead Sheep Productions is offering a Getting Started in Genealogy presentation. Do you know a group who would enjoy this presentation? 

Grandma Ethel’s Gift

Ethel Schwartz was not my biological grandmother, but from the first time we met she decided to be “Grandma Ethel.” She taught me to make Christmas cookies, and not lick the spoon while frosting them. To send thank you notes and to change the water in cut flowers every day to make them last longer. A child of the depression she valued saving and fixing and repairing things over buying new.

She was the subject of my first personal history video, which I made for her and Grandpa Don’s 60th anniversary. She made it easy, she loved to talk about her family. The most amazing part was when she passed away 5 years later we played the video during her wake and family and friends huddled around the TV and laughed and cried as she got to tell her own story. As the family was preparing for the funeral, we also found a journal her daughter had given her years before for Christmas. It asked her questions about her life and we all learned something new about her in reading it. This is the inspiration for our Life Moments Guided Journals which we are excited to announce will be available in June (’19).If you follow Lead Sheep Productions on social media (Facebook, InstagramTwitter), you know that this month we are celebrating the woman in our lives. It is incredible when we take time to understand and  realize how much each person has contributed to our story.

Book Suggestion: The Stories We Leave Behind: A Legacy-Based Approach to Dealing with Stuff by Laura Gilbert.  

Book Link >

Am I German?

When I took the DNA test a few years back, I was expecting to be quite a bit German. All of my paternal grandmother’s grandparents were born in Germany. I also have many other lines where Germans appear. When I opened my results, German wasn’t even an option, it was lumped in with all of Western Europe, and I was only 5%. I was instead over 60% British. This shocked me a little, what was I going to do when someone called me stubborn, could I no longer blame my German ancestry? 

A lot of people get results they find confusing. The first thing you need to understand is reference samples. The companies are comparing your DNA to reference samples of people today who can show they have been in the area for generations. That is not the same as comparing your DNA to all Germans. In fact, in 2018 Ancestry updated and expanded their reference samples and my ethnicity results now show 10% Germanic Europe. No, my DNA did not change; the interpretation of it did. The other thing to note is migration. We tend to think of our ancestors as being from one place, but human beings have been migrating for centuries. If you read about the region of Great Britain on, you will notice that the Germanic tribes of Angles and Saxons are part of the genetic makeup of the area. 
It is also essential to understand how DNA is passed down. You inherited 50% of each of your parent’s DNA, meaning that 50% of their DNA you did not inherit. This is why siblings can have very different ethnicity results. Confused?  Here is a video from ancestry that explains it. 

While DNA is never wrong, our interpretations and understanding of it can be. So it is important to use DNA as a tool along with traditional paper research. And why the cousin matches are a much more critical part of your results than ethnicity. A cousin match helped me to find an Irish ancestor with a common name. And all the cousins I expect to have on the German side are matches and getting the same low percentage I am, so I know that the Germans in the paper trail are my ancestors.