Friday, November 27, 2009

Surprising Family Genealogy

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Ours was surrounded by family. I was fortunate that my father was able to make it to represent my side of the family in comparison to the 20 on Husbands side! While he was here, we got to talking about his family history project. Being an engineer, he has developed a meticulous and thorough spreadsheet(s). The amount of work he has put into this project is awe-inspiring (and he isn't even retired!). Since he was here, I finally got a chance to really look at the spreadsheets with him. He had several interesting items to point out. Some I was aware of: we came over on the Mayflower, related to Julia Ward Howe-writer of The Battle Hymn of the Republic, and to Elias Howe-one of the inventors of the sewing machine. What was new and surprising was the fact that I am related to Brigham Young. What?!?! Seriously!?! I am sure that thought would never, ever cross my mind. I had no idea there were even any Mormons in the family tree-then Brigham Young shows up? I always assumed I came from a long line of Catholics. My dad assured me that he requires at least two separate sources before he would even consider it for the spreadsheet. I guess when you start digging in the past, you never know who might pop up.

We got to talking about how hard it is to research deep family history and the challenges he has had. He has traced four branches, but is having a particularly tough time with one branch. Evidently, the family on that side has no interest in sharing details. I find all this history fascinating, but I guess not everyone feels that way. They want to keep their family secrets private. Evidently there are some divorces and who knows what else. To me, the more I know, the better. I can't change what happened in the past. I am not guilty of my predecessors transgressions. I can learn from them, though. I can study my history and grow from their experiences and knowledge. I wish my relatives didn't feel shamed by their past. They are good, wonderful people. The stories of their ancestors doesn't change who they are now. Maybe, in time, they will feel more comfortable opening up. I hope so.

I also hope you take some time to learn a little bit about your ancestors. They might not be what you expected, but they may just enrich your future.

Monday, November 23, 2009


"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow."

-Melody Beattie (via MaryJanesFarm)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Not My Finest Hour (1/2)

Today was our congregations annual Bread Service. I love this service. I imagine it is one of the closest things UUs have to communion. I was really looking forward to it and made St. Lucia buns* to share. It is also one of the kids favorite services (I wonder why....) When we got to the Chapel and looked at the program, I thought "wow, there is a lot going on in this service". On the agenda were new member recognitions and child blessings. Additionally, there were four speakers, a sermon, a separate children's and choral anthem, with the conclusion being the breaking of the bread. Seemed like a tight schedule for one hour.

As it became more and more apparent that this was going to be a looooong service, I felt myself becoming more and more antsy. Did the minister have to say that same phrase over and over to every new member? There must have been fifteen. Couldn't he do an en mass child blessing instead of individually blessing every single child? There were probably ten of them. Did we need four speakers? Couldn't two do enough? He should have cut his sermon (despite it being really good) - didn't he see that we had been sitting there over an hour?!? With children?!? When were we going to get to the good part?!

Of course, I realize how ridiculous I was being. A very "time is precious" Westerner. Instead of sitting back and settling in, all I could think about was the time and when it would be over. I have been reading "The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching" by Thich Nhat Hanh, and realize how far from living in the moment I was. Instead of celebrating all the new members and welcoming then into the community, I was counting how many more were in line. I should have been rejoicing in all the babies that truly are a blessing to us, instead of wondering why families couldn't stand up there together. The four speakers spoke from their heart and crossed generational lines and perspectives on what it truly means to be grateful and loved. I was too wrapped up in my own selfish thoughts to appreciate the true beauty of the service. When I reflect back on this morning, I am disappointed in myself. I am the one who lost out. This next year, I am really going to work on being in the present - I just wish it wasn't so hard.

*For those of you new to Bread Services: traditionally congregants bring bread that has some sort of meaning to their family. After it is blessed, we break it together and share it throughout the congregation. It is a wonderful way to reconnect with each other and our unique traditions. Since two of my children are Swedeophiles and my grandpa was part Swedish, we decided on the St. Lucia buns.

Friday, November 20, 2009

For the Love of Diorama

When we moved into this house, we were confronted with a big hole in the wall. The residents before us had literally cut a hole the exact size of their TV into the wall (actually the back of a hall closet) in our living room. Our TV is significantly smaller than the hole. Thus, our living room looked a little strange with a TV sitting in a big hole in the wall. Handy husband came to the rescue and built shelving around the TV and now it looks more like we have custom cabinets. As you can see in the picture, though, there is a decent sized shelf above the TV. This lent itself to many possible uses, but the one that immediately seemed most interesting to me and the kids was: Diorama! (not quite so much to Husband...)

So what you are looking at is our Fall display. I will often come up with a general background theme and then the kids will add to it through out the season. M made all the fallen apples and we picked up the mini gourds at the pumpkin patch. I totally had fun making the hay bales and spooky clouds. Soon we will be moving on to Winter, but I wanted to show you all our harvest theme. Now you have yet another thing to look forward to on this blog!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


I greatly dislike it when life imitates art. It just throws everything off.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Life Experiences

Today, at school, I found out one of my daughter's friend's mother is in the hospital. While it was serious at the time, she will be ok. I asked if I could do anything to help. I suggested I could bring some food over. The daughter immediately responded, "that is ok, they give her food there". It was so sweet and it took everything in me not to smile/chuckle. I explained that I had meant when her mom was back at home. She then stated they would be fine because they would eat a lot of fastfood and there is a McDonald's nearby. Obviously, they are set.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Thank you Veterans! Your service to our country has not gone unnoticed. I thank you for all your personal sacrifices in support of our country. I also send an extra hug to Rob, Jon, Carl, Paul, Paul and Jason (who is still active). THANK YOU.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Girl Scout - Part II

I swear the Girl Scouts are going to do me in. The amount of frustration the organization causes me (not the actual girls), is sure to drive me slowly insane. I want this troop to work, but I feel like they are trying everything in their power to undermine my efforts. Come on Council - GET IT TOGETHER!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Halloween Pet Peeve

I love Halloween. It is one of my favorite Holidays. I really LOVE costumes. I often think that I should have become a theatre costume designer. I appreciate it when people put a lot of effort into their homemade costume. What I can't stand is the need for people (sadly, mostly women) who feel the need to tart up their costume. Why can't you just be a bat? Why does it have to be a "sexy" bat? Who finds a bat sexy? Who finds a kitten sexy? Do you have such low self-esteem that you have to somehow how portray an animal as sexy? I find it very disheartening, especially to all the little girls looking at these overly adult costumes as something to aspire to. There are plenty of appropriate and fun costumes to be without having the fear of literally falling out of them*. Leave the risque stuff for the private party.

*Costumes I made my husband and I have worn: Fidel Castro & Imelda Marcos, Wendy & Dave Thomas, Two-faced politician & Suffragette (election year), Teletubbies