Monday, December 31, 2012

Halloween Treat found in December

     Who knew I would be bringing home a treasured shoe box of memories from this last visit back home. My mom and I sat down at the dining room table last week, during our family Christmas, and went through an box of old and some not so old, photos.

     It was quite funning hearing the comments from my kids about their grandparents, great-grandparents, even my husband and I. We had a wonderful time laughing and trying to remember who some of the people were and where some of those photos were taken. If you remember last month I posted about seeking a photo of my grandparents or parents during Halloween. Well jack pot we found one in that old shoe box of photos. It took her only a few minutes to remember that it was a Halloween photo, I’m so happy. It was taken in 1960 and I believe it was at her house in the living room, she was dressed as a little girl with her dolly, sucker and even a big silk bow in her hair.

     So for those of you who were on a search like I was, don’t give up I’ve at least found one.


Sunday, December 30, 2012

Diaries and the Weather

The car is pack with presents, food, suitcases and movies for the kids. We are on the road heading to a family Christmas. As we were packing everything up in the car, the conversation was about the weather. What it was currently doing and what we were about to drive into. That got me to thinking about something that might be overlooked during some of our research.

      The weather played a pretty big role in the lives and travels of our ancestors. Many of them kept travel or weather diaries noting what the weather was like, some even made notations every day. Now that can be a treasure chest of hidden information for some of us. For example if you were reading a diary entry that was discussing the excitement of someone's arrival, then read another entry the following days speaking of disappointment because the guest never arrived. It could be the weather that hindered their travel. Not all of our ancestors made notations of the weather. Those who did might hold the answer to some questions we have, maybe break some of those brick walls. Lets face it with all of the assistance we have traveling now with GPS and internet things are much easier. I guarantee that my great grandparents had to make quick discussions when traveling in inclement weather. Because of those types of quick traveling discussions its nice to have a weather diary to refer back to, plus having it written in their own handwriting makes it even more of a treasure.

     I know this is a short post but one that I thought I would share. You never know what you might overlook when doing your research.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Quick Tip

     All of the presents are unwrapped the toys put away, new clothes hung up and your still sitting around trying to figure out how to work that new electronic device you got. If you’re like me put it down and step away for a few minutes and remember everything that happened these past two days.

     It’s likely you might have overlooked or forgotten about a special comment, thought that someone had, or even possibly a new tradition. I know if you’re like me you were probably going a mile a minute, with all the baking, shopping, decorating and traveling. One thing that I’ve learned this year is that during the holidays, when I hear or see something that should be remembered I need to record it. So next year, I will make sure to have my phone handy, so I can record all of those comments, thoughts and traditions.  It will be fun to play back all tidbits that I might have missed. For instance the memory of seeing my husband and daughter playing the “Mystery Date Game”, no one wanted the DUD. When we all jumped into the car, drove around town looking at Christmas decorations then came back home and opened our presents. There’s a new tradition that we all enjoyed.

     My point is you never know what you might miss during these special times. So find a way to temporally record it till later. Then when you have the time to document it for all so see and share you will be glad you did it.  

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas

    Ahh! Just broke away from the “Christmas Twister”, the tradition of Christmas wonder carried on this year. With every year there seems to be a new tradition that is added to your old ones. I wanted to take a quick break and recognize a new tradition for me and that was wishing all of you a safe and wonderful “Merry Christmas”.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Advent Calendar - Christmas Eve

     The Christmas Shuffle has begun; no it isn’t some kind of hoe-down dance. Not really, this is the dance that every parent does right before the paper shredding event takes place.

     First thing in the morning we quietly sneak in to grab a cup of coffee, it might be the only peace and quiet we have for two days. I love my kids don’t get me wrong, but we ALL seek silence in the house before the “Christmas Twister” hits. Once all the gift seeking sweethearts get up the Christmas tree attack begins, so to speak. You can catch each one of then sitting on the floor crisscross applesauce style, gazing at the gifts below the tree. The conversation will consist of many different points of interest for all parents to hear.

     ….”lets count how many presents are under the tree.”

     ….”that’s too heavy.”

     ….”this one makes sound when you shake it, hey mom this isn’t breakable is it?”

     ….”someone tricked me with this box.”

     ….”I know exactly what this is.”

     Once their legs go numb from sitting on the floor the number one question will be asked, not only once but multiple times, “When are we going to open the presents?”

     Once the kids are entertaining themselves we begin our Christmas Shuffle. Running around making sure we remember where we hid everything, it never fails something is always missing. Then we do a quick double check to make sure we didn’t leave anyone out, or short anyone I should say. We know how they like to count and compare.

     Quick kitchen run through making sure all of the Christmas Eve and Christmas Day dinner ingredients are on hand. Prepare the sugar cookie station with icing and sprinkles, spread the wax paper out and lay out all of the cookies. Now it’s time for the decorating chefs to come in and create.  Mom and dad now have a few minutes to set back, watch, enjoy and remember our childhood past at our cookie stations.

     Our Christmas Eve consists of all the fun activities discussed, the tradition and activities continue on into the evening. Once the cookies are done it's time to make the homemade pizzas, that's right on Christmas Eve we have homemade pizza for our dinner, no were not Italian. Don't worry on Christmas Day it's the traditional prime rib with all the trimmings. The stomachs are full, dishes in the dishwasher and now it's time for the wrapping paper to fly.

     Ah, the smiling faces, giggles and joyful conversation are now taking place, while we, mom and dad, set back wondering what just happened. Then laugh and realize it was the "Christmas Twister". The evening has come to an end and now it's time for bed, they try real hard to get all snug in their beds and go to sleep for they know Santa Claus is on his way.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Advent Calendar - Christmas and Deceased Relatives

This Advent calendar post is one of the hardest for me. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think of my grandparents and the holidays are even harder. These are the times when the family comes together to celebrate so many wonderful things, love, memories, accomplishments and a time to reflect on the past. There is always a special toast in honor of them, a special ornament that we hang on the tree to remember them and a special prayer that we say.  It wouldn’t be out of the ordinary that during the time we are preparing a meal, eating or opening presents to hear us reminiscing about them. Something that they might have said, done or what they might be thinking at this time. Only to be followed by a laugh and maybe a tear or two of joy.

     Physically they might not be here with us now but their spirit, their love and their memories are with us always. When we take a moment to look in the mirror, at the decorations, even some of the baked dishes on the table or even look at the smiling faces of our children, they are there smiling back at us. We love you.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Advent Calendar - Christmas Shopping

     I remember Christmas shopping when I was younger, no wait that was making out my wish list for Santa. Every year right before Thanksgiving the Sears catalog would arrive, along with JcPenny catalog. My brothers and I would take turns going through the catalogs, circling what we wanted then folding the corners of each page that had all the good stuff.  Why did they stop sending out those catalogs, those were the best things ever, oh yeah the internet. I guess you could say that tradition continues on here in the Rodesky house. Except the catalogs look more like flyers and each child uses a different colored highlighter. I guess with a neon highlighter we have no excuse to miss anything circled.  

     Growing up I remember when the PTA would open “Santa’s Workshop” in the library. You would walk into room with all of these wonderful small gifts sitting on tables. Some for your parents, grandparents and even siblings, there were so many choices. After we carefully picked out all of gifts we would then go back to the classroom and wrap away.   

     Christmas shopping, what a fun activity that we all try and do with smiles on our faces and holiday warmth in our hearts.  I know that with good intentions I try and start early, but it never fails that the minds of the young ones change. But I think over the last few years we have it down pretty good. We wait until the week after “Black Friday”, things are usually calmer then. Both my husband and I take turns with each of the kids. We take them out to various stores and let them pick out what they want to get for each other. It’s surprising to see how well they know each other and seem to pick just the right thing.

Advent Calendar - Christmas Stockings

     A few years back my mom made Christmas stockings for my brothers and me. If you’ve ever been to any craft store or craft department in a large retail store I’m sure you’ve seen these kits. The ones that were felt appliqué with tons and I mean tons of sequins and beads, that all had to be hand sewn. Mom could have picked any kit and I’m sure at one point, okay maybe at a couple points, she wished she would have.

     Each of us had a different Christmas holiday character on the front of our stockings, mine has Santa. As you noticed I used present tense, I still have it. I’m pretty sure that both of my brothers’ do, I think on one was “Frosty the Snowman” and the other one was “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer”. My mom is a very crafty lady and loves to make things with her hands that hold meanings and memories, these stocking do that and the tradition carried on. I remember when my mom would sit in her brown plaid chair and open each little plastic packet of sequins and beads, then work to separate them by color in a metal muffin pan. We were instructed not touch that muffin tin, no matter how pretty and shiny everything was inside of it. We listened and didn’t touch it; we were playing around and bumped it, so that’s not technically touching it. Boy did those sequins fly and make a pretty rainbow of color on the living room floor. Problem is mom didn’t think it was that pretty, once we finished helping her clean them up and separating them by color we didn’t care to see another rainbow of sequins again.    

     Remember I said that I still have mine and the tradition carried on. Well it has, once my oldest son saw my stocking he wanted one so I did as my mom had many years ago. I believe I have finally completed that tradition and now have the same felt appliqué, sequin and bead covered stocking for everyone in the Rodesky household.

Advent Calendar - Grab Bag - Big Blue Cat

     Is your family one of those families that has a “ham bone” or simple goofy Christmas tradition? Well the Langston’s do, my dad’s side of the family. Correction my dad’s sisters do, or they did. That’s where the “Big Blue Cat” comes in to play, or exchange I should say. I’m not sure who really started this tradition if I were to look at the gift I would have to say my Aunt Sally since she is the big lover of cats.


     Every year we would gather to celebrate Christmas and all of our blessings. Everyone would take turns hosting it at their home and it usually took place the first weekend after Christmas. Trust me this was a house full, not everyone could make it to all of the gatherings but when we did you had to make room for eighteen bodies both young and younger. Everyone would bring some baked goods and a side dish or two, just like a regular family reunion. Once we finished with all the hugs the kids would give the parents a brake, short brake and go entertain ourselves till the dinner bell would ring. After we finished eating and enjoying all of the sugary sweets it was time to gather around the tree for a paper ripping good time. This was when we would discover who would be the new owner of the “Big Blue Cat”. It sat about sixteen inches tall with its pink eyes, long eyelashes and full of bubble bath. Yep that’s right, “Big Blue Cat” with bubble bath inside. I’m not really sure if anyone ever used it or not it was just a fun tradition that was passed around every year. Funny thing I don’t know where that cat is now but the memory I and others have of it will last for many years to come.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Advent Calendar - Christmas at School

I don’t ever recall being in a school Christmas pageant, oh no wait I think I do. I was a present, that’s right my mom wrapped a big box in Christmas paper then put a bow on it. I slipped into the box and stood on stage with all of the other kids in school singing Christmas carols. I can also remember, from second grade up there was some kind of classroom event celebrating Christmas. The homeroom mom would put together small crafts, games for the kids to play and we would make Christmas ornaments. Most of the moms would bring in baked goods and drinks for all of us to enjoy, we would also exchange small gifts.
     While in junior high and high school I played the flute in band and we would put on Christmas concerts. I remember my first Christmas concert outfit; my daughter would love it, just joking. It was a Red and green wool plaid skirt, white blouse, red sweater, black tights and my early Christmas present, clogs.  Mom and dad let me wear my Christmas present early that year, but after the concert they were wrapped and put back under the tree.   

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Advent Calendar - The Holiday Happenings!

     Before we commence in the traditional gift giving celebration we have a few more champagne bottles to uncork.  Both a birthday and anniversary are celebrated during the month of December around here.

     A very special, smart, caring and wonderful lady celebrates her birthday during the month of December, my mom. No matter how hectic the holiday season may get, we always wish mom a Happy Birthday. Reminding her how much she means to us, not only as a mom but also as a grandmother.  Since we are a military family it’s not always easy to be home for mom’s birthday. We have a birthday tradition that we do here in the Rodesky household for grandma and grandpa. All of the grandkids report to a central location, usually on the stairs and prepare to entertain. No they don’t do a little dance, or pose for a picture, but instead entertain her with a few bars of “Happy Birthday” with a few “cha-cha-chas” added in. One year she spent her birthday helping my husband and me with a very special event, our wedding. Well actually, that birthday she spent with us and the whole wedding party in a Golden Coral. If I’m not mistaking we had them bring out a slice of cake and everyone sang Happy Birthday. So mom, grandma, have the phone close by again, because we will be calling soon to sing another tone.

     My husband, Terry and I were married just two days after that Golden Coral dinner. It was a perfect December afternoon with all of our families and friends around in a beautiful church. That was one of those days in our lives that I will never forget. That was the day that I married my best friend, the man that I love and continue to love. No matter how many miles are between us we are always together in our hearts on this special December day.   It’s one of those days in your life that you will never forget no matter how many wonderful years you have spent with each other, that day will always stick out.  Happy Anniversary Terry!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Advent Calendar - Fruitcake - Friend or Foe?

     Fruitcake is a brick with solid colored marbles. Honestly, I tried once and only once, mainly because I was asked for the safety of all too please never make another one. Really I’m sure somewhere in that request love was behind it.

     I don’t really remember my grandmother ever making one. I do however remember a mason jar of strange goo with floating green and red balls sitting on my mom’s kitchen counter top. I don’t recall it ever being there but once, so I’m not really sure if that was a onetime shot. Who knows maybe she received the same loving request that I did.

     I’ve come to believe that the person who came up with this recipe was a sweet grandmotherly type. She found the holidays to be very hectic and could hardly find any time for herself so she invented the “confetti brick of love.” I envision her adding all of the ingredients into the mixing bowl and a few shots of rum in her tea. Maybe that’s where I went wrong I needed tea, just kidding. I’m sure somewhere out there someone is making great tasting fruitcakes. But I don’t recall anyone in my family ever making a blue ribbon winner. So for me it’s defiantly not a friend, more of a foe.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Advent Calendar - Holiday Travel

     Traveling during  the Christmas holiday is something that most families due; either by car, plane, bus or even train. We did a lot of traveling during the holidays while stationed in Germany. One year we flew to Paris during the Christmas holiday. Some might think that would have been the most memorable; sure we enjoyed it but nothing like Garmisch.

     When traveling through the mountains in Germany it takes your breath away. It was an endless picture of nature at its best. The closer we got to Garmisch and the German guesthouse it only got better. There were blankets of white as far as the eyes could see.  The kids would even stop arguing and watch the snow fall. We couldn’t believe how big some of those flakes were. When they would hit the window you could see each flakes design.  It was about a four to five hour drive that the kids would do again and again. That should tell you how much we enjoyed those trips.

     We do miss it and plan on visiting the same area again. Who knows maybe in many years to come we will travel that way again with our kids and grandkids.  

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Plastic Bread Bags + Soap = Snowtime Fun

     If you’ve been following my blog this past week you would have noticed a pattern, Christmas traditions and memories. I don’t know about the rest of you but when this time of year comes around you can’t help but think of the “soft white fluffy stuff,” that’s right snow. I love some of the memories I have as a kid playing in the snow and enjoy creating even more with my kids. 

     When you’re younger the cold wet weather never seems to bother you, you’re tough, and it’s just snow. When my brothers and I were younger we couldn’t wait for the snow to fall and pack the gravel road in front of our house. See we had the BEST hill in front of our house, the best hill for flying down on our bikes during the warmer months and sleds for the winter months.

     Dad would grab the bar of “Ivory” soap and begin soaping our sleds. He always said that soaping the skids on the sleds helped it to run smother and faster. Those sleds had to be ready for non-stop sled runs down our road.   I guess it’s the same as waxing your skies before hitting the slopes. But there is one big difference between sledding and skiing when it comes to my childhood, empty plastic bread bags. That’s right I said plastic bread bags. It didn’t matter if it was Wonder Bread, Blue Bunny or the general store brand any bag would work.

     See while dad was getting the sleds ready mom was in charge of making sure we had all of our gear. You know the typical coat, gloves, scarf, hat, snow boots and plastic bread bags. Okay I’ll explain the bread bags. Some of you might know about this and others might be surprised. You know how when you’re out playing in the snow, rolling in it and getting clocked in the back of the head by that white cannon ball.  It never fails you end up with snow in places that can make you uncomfortable and that’s part of the fun. But mom and dad told us that keeping our feet warm and dry was very important, so that’s where the plastic bread bags would come in.  

    Once we had all of our gear on, minus our boots, we’d park it on the coach in front of mom. She would slide one bread bag on each sock covered foot; slip a large rubber band around the top. Then help us get our boots on and pull your pant legs down over our bags and boots. Sounds strange I know, I use to complain about having to wear bread bags on me feet, but it did work. It would keep your feet completely dry and warm. So Mom and Dad you were right, but I still thought it was strange.

      It’s funny now when I share memories like this one with my kids they think I’m going to tell them about walking a mile to school. No, I didn’t walk a mile in hand me down boots in snow drifts up to my knees, I just wore empty plastic bread bags on my feet while playing in the snow. The looks on their faces are priceless. Maybe that could be a Pintrerest pin, “Additional uses for empty plastic bread bags.”

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Winter Time Winner

Setting here going through some photos of "Winters" past and found this one. It's definitely a "Winter time Winner". Oh the memories that we have from this trip. 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Advent Calendar - Christmas Gifts

     Oh yeah! Look at all those Christmas presents under the tree. Please, oh please, let that one present that I’ve always wanted be there. How many times do you remember saying that as a child, or you might even catch yourself saying that now. Be honest, we have all thought that at least once in life. Or you might even have the same thought when it comes to that “Jolly Red Elf Santa,” you hope he brings you the first thing you had on your list. Because this first thing listed was always the most wanted gift.

     Here in the Rodesky household we have all said that a time or two, or three, well you get the idea. Anyway one of the funniest traditions that we have when it comes to exchanging our Christmas presents might seem, strange to some. But honestly it can be funny and quite entertaining. With four children in the house you hear, on the average of three to four times every two days, “I hope I get…” or “you did send my list to Santa…” Once everything is wrapped and under the tree all four of the kids and the big kid, my husband, feel as if they can tell you exactly what’s in each package. About four years ago my oldest decided to shake things up a little. He would wrap small gifts in larger boxes and even add additional weight so you would have no clue. We have even taken a gift out of its original packaging and wrap it in a strange shape. It was so funny the first year that it has caught on and now all of us will do the same thing but not with every present. That way it keeps everyone guessing, you have no idea which one is the prank gift. I know it’s not the usual tradition but is there really a rule for tradition, not one that I’m aware of.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Advent Calendar - Grab Bag

     Back many years ago growing up we use to do this thing called, window shopping. Where you would drive down town, not to the mall or large chain store, get out of the car and stroll around. You would look in the store front windows and dream about all of the displays and things that you want. Most of the time we would do this on Sundays and Holidays, like Christmas. I know this is a foreign concept now since everything is open seven days a week and there are so many malls and the windows, those windows don’t always have that warm Christmas holiday feeling.  

     When I was much younger I remember all of us getting into our car and driving down town, Cape Girardeau, Missouri. When I say down town that’s what I mean, all of the shops were along the river and you had parking places in front of each store or a medium sized parking lot at the end of the street. Dad would drive around trying to find a parking space, while we were jumping around making sure all of my winter gear was on. Plus some of my jumping was pure excitement because I could see the crowds and hear some of the music playing softly in the distance.

     This was always the place that all families would go to kick of the Christmas season, Hutson’s Family Furniture store. I don’t ever recall meeting this family but if I did or could I would want them to know what wonderful memories they gave me during my childhood. See they had some of the most wonderful Christmas and Winter Wonderland displays. Each window would depict a different scene; some were out doors with singing animals, dressed, singing and dancing. My favorite was the one with the elves in Santa’s workshop hammering away on the toys and singing “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.”  

     While stationed in Germany we had to opportunity to take our kids to see the same type of displays. I will remember the smiles and giggles on their faces forever. I wish all children had the same opportunity to experience such a wonder like that, just like I did and our kids.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Advent Calendar - Christmas Cookies

     Christmas cookies are a staple in the Rodesky house hold just as they were in the Langston house. Both my mom and grandma would bake like there was no tomorrow. I remember mom would always bake a variety of goodies. Everything from haystacks, peanut clusters, and divinity to sugar cookies and trust me I could go on. With Grandma and Grandpa it was always fudge, they would cut into one inch thick squares, and then warp them in wax paper. I don’t know exactly why they would wrap each piece, maybe they wanted you to feel like you were unwrapping a present of yummy goodness.  My fudge till this day looks like sticky mud; they had a secret, wish I would have asked.

     My favorite cookie was and still is sugar cookies with homemade powder sugar icing. I can clearly remember the first time I was able to help mom make the cookies. She pulled out all of the ingredients that we would need along with the brown and milky white glass mixing bowl. Then she wrapped this yellow and brown apron, with brown rick-rack on the edges, around my waist. She would then but her matching apron on, both of them were made by her grandmother, one was moms and the other one was her moms, my grandma. I still have both of those aprons, I think this might be the year my daughter wears it while making cookies.

     I was allowed to place all of the ingredients in the mixing bowl minus the eggs. I guess the idea of me cracking the eggs on the counter top and floor wasn’t festive. My favorite part of making the cookies was when mom would pour the flour into the sifter and I got to sift. I don’t know what the big deal was with that, it wasn’t anything fancy a metal sifter with a red painted wooden knob that I would turn.

      It never failed once everything was mixed you could find my dad eating some of the cookie dough. He and both my brothers had their favorite part of making the cookies and that was it, eating the dough.  We would roll out the dough and use our Christmas cookie cutters in shapes of stars, Santa, holly leaf and I believe a Christmas bell. Once they were baked and cooled it was time to for the icing and sprinkles. Now this was and still is the “BEST” part. We would lay the paper bags out on the counter top, space the cookies out evenly then begin icing. See I would always add a little extra icing on the cookies so it would run off onto the paper bags. Once the cookies were picked up I would take my finger and wipe up all the icing that accidently, yeah right, dripped off the cookies and lick it off. Yes, this was one of my favorite parts of making sugar cookies and still it.  

     Here in the Rodesky house we still bake all of the Christmas goodies including the sugar cookies. As tradition would have it my husband and sons have taken the place of my dad and brothers. As soon as everything in mixed in the bowl you can always find them grabbing a piece of cookie dough and eating away. My daughter and I can be found dragging our fingers in the icing that drips off the cookies, like mother like daughter. Yummy!

Friday, December 7, 2012

House Fire Takes Everything

     I had my post all ready for today but thought after yesterday I should change the subject. Actually I was in the middle of checking it to make sure everything was ready when I heard the sirens.  I live in a small neighborhood of around 25-30 homes, in a country setting out of the city. So when you hear sirens you know it’s coming into your neighborhood.  I went out the front of our house to see fire trucks and an ambulance driving by; my heart started thumping fast with fear and concern. I walk down the first step and look in the direction the vehicles were traveling and my heart sank. I saw a house with smoke coming out of the roof then realized I knew the family that lived in that house, their son and our son are very close friends.

     I ran down, hoping the whole way that no one in the house. The closer I got I could see the oldest child made it out fine. She told the firemen that she was the only one in the house, and her mom was on the way. Within a matter of seconds the house went from clouds of dark gray smoke to a few flames then it looked like a fire ball. All any of us could do at this point was stand there and cry, tears of relief that everyone was safe along with tears of their loss. There were two wonderful people who ran into the home, grabbing Christmas presents, trinkets and photos in the entry way. They lost everything clothes, electronics, furniture, the typical things most of us have in our homes.

     Having the love for genealogy, my family and our memories it took a few minutes to dawn on me but their memories were gone. Sure they have the memories in their hearts but the memories they can physically see, touch and share were gone. This is a special family and we have become very fond of their son.

     We have all scanned some of our family’s most treasured memories. All of the research we have done, on our families and maybe others. If something like this were to happen to my family I know that we wouldn’t have enough time to save everything. So I’ve decided to save everything now, right now. We have a fire proof safe in our home as I’m sure many of us do. As I said earlier I have scanned many documents, letters and photos. I will now make sure that my USB stick, with all of our memories and my research on it is kept that safe. I will only pull it out to backup and save any photos or research that I’m working on then return it directly back to the safe. Unfortunately this is a lesson that I have learned at someone else’s expense and hopefully many of you will follow.    

Thursday, December 6, 2012

It's Somewhere -- Part 2

     I know its December but I wanted to update a post I made back in October, “It’s Somewhere.” During the Thanksgiving holiday I had the opportunity to ask my mom and dad about how they enjoyed Halloween. I’ll have to admit I was somewhat surprised to the answer I got about trick or treating and Halloween.

     Both her and my dad, don’t recall any pictures of either of them in a Halloween costumes and the costumes they wore were homemade. Mom recalled dressing up as a hobo and using a red bandana to collect candy in as she went door to door. Dad and his sisters used brown paper bags to collect their candy and their costumes were homemade also, again no photos. When I asked about my grandparents she didn’t recall any stories about my grandmother and Halloween. Grandma grew up on a farm and not really close to town and money was pretty tight. I’m sure grandma knew of Halloween but living out in the country, on a farm makes it kind of hard to go door to door.

     I would have really enjoyed seeing some of those photos. Again I’m reminded about the importance of the photos. Don’t forget to include some of your memories in photos for future genealogist, who knows your grandchildren might really enjoy them.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Passing On the Tradition

     Christmas traditions are something that we all have. For some of us it’s going around the neighborhood singing Christmas carols, decorating cookies, stringing popcorn or even putting up the Christmas tree.  The last couple of blogs I’ve posted have been about my Christmas traditions growing up and I have really enjoyed sharing those. I can’t believe I forgot one of my favorite traditions; it was also one that my brothers enjoyed. Now notice I didn’t mention my parents enjoying this one.

     Whenever we spent Christmas at my grandparents’ house my grandmother had her version of “The Elf on a Shelf”. Once we arrived at their house we would all roll out of the car. Dad and grandpa would grab the luggage while the rest of us hit the bathroom, what it was a long drive. Then all of the grandkids would give the usual hugs and kisses to both grandma and grandpa. Then immediately run no walk fast, no running in the house, to the white Christmas tree decorated with blue lights and silver ornaments. Yeah, it kind of makes you think of Elvis. Okay back to the tradition, in that tree was a special ornament that was a silver ball with a small bird trapped inside. At least that’s what we were told and it was our job to find it. See this ornament had a special bird one that would actually chirp and chirp and chirp, until we found it. Once it was found grandma would unplug it and the bird would stop singing.

     I never could figure out why the adults in the house were so anxious for us to find the bird. But as most traditions go, you pass them on and I was the lucky one to continue that tradition with my family. Let’s just say I loved it as a child and enjoy watching my kids try to find the bird. But I now am anxious for them to find that chirping bird.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Taste so good.

     Well  did it again they listed a blog prompt that I couldn’t pass up on. This prompt was about traditional dishes or unusual dishes your family served during the holidays. The traditional turkey or ham didn’t enter my mind, something unusual did.

     During Christmas we would alternate between our home and my grandparent’s. If I remember correctly, this dish made its first appearance while we were at my grandparents. It was a side dish, a festive color of red with a soft, fluffy white topping. No it wasn’t a red velvet cake, remember I said side dish. It was cold with a crunch yet salt bottom crust topped with a rich red strawberry Jell-O and the final layer was a cool whip topping. I don’t remember what it was called but I thought it was the strangest dish I had ever seen. But oh…my…gosh… it was delicious and I’ve tried and tried to make it hoping to add it to my family’s traditional holiday dinner.  I haven’t got it down yet my pretzels seem to lose that crunch and become soggy pieces of pretzels. I’ll get the hang of it and if it looks yummy I’ll have to take a picture and write down the recipe.

     I just had another quick thought about writing down those recipes. I know we are always looking for the documents and letters. Even the family bibles and journals that hold our families secrets but one of the best secrets are those made in the kitchen. Let’s not forget those and remember to write down the ingredients of those special dishes you prepare this holiday season. Our children even or grandchildren might what to carry on that family tradition, dish.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Christmas Tree Traditions....

     We all have our Christmas holiday traditions; some are unique while others are so similar you can’t tell them apart from other families. One that almost all of us have in common is the Christmas tree. We might have different sizes, shapes and even colors. Let’s not forget some of us have artificial while others have the real sap dripping trees.

     Some of you might be aware of this blog;, if not I would recommend if you do blog and enjoy genealogy pay it a visit. On their blog they are posting prompts for December so I thought I would give this prompt a try. It was a prompt about Christmas trees and your family’s traditions around them. So without further ado here we go with mine, let’s see if I can remember that far back.

     The tradition that I currently share with my family is pretty close to the one I had growing up. From what I can remember we always had an artificial tree, I don’t know why exactly. Hey mom if you’re reading this maybe you can clue me in on why we never had a real tree? Don’t get me wrong we had a beautifully decorated tree that we would wait until after Thanksgiving before putting up. Dad would drag the box out of the attic, along with all the other festive decorations. It was always put up in the same place in our living room, so when you walked in the front door that was the first thing you would see. For some reason we, my two brothers and I, were never allowed to hang the lights. I bet it had something to do with our inability to cast a fishing line without wrapping it around a tree branch, love you dad.

     Mom would pull out all of the breakable ornaments and hang them in just the perfect places. Then we were allowed to hang up the remaining, some were handcrafted that we made the previous years and others were gift ornaments we had received from our grandparents.  We would step back take a quick look and make sure the tree was balanced with equal ornaments on all sides of the tree.  Next was the   fun of throwing the silver tinsel. Just kidding that was one thing we couldn’t do; we would each take a handful. Then with around three to four strands of tinsel neatly place it on the tree. But no matter what you could ALWAYS find a golf ball size clump of tinsel somewhere on the tree. The decorating wasn’t complete until we placed the Christmas village with the ice skating rink under the tree. Then FA LA LA LA LA the tree was finished and now time for the rest, hang all stockings, more lights and place the rest of the decorations throughout the house.  

Sunday, December 2, 2012

I Love My Kids...

     Kids say the funniest things! It’s so true and most of us know that. Yesterday I ended my blog letting you know that I was going to share something with you about my daughter. Yes she knows that I’m going to blog about her but I’ve promised not to reveal her name, I only have one daughter, hint, hint.

     During my appearance on the FGS Radio yesterday, Randy Whited the host asked me if any of my children showed interest in genealogy. After my family had a chance to listen I was corrected by one of my boys. See I told Randy that all three of my boys could care less, it was like doing homework. I was later told by my oldest that wasn’t true, he likes it especially when he finds out something really interesting. He does show some interest and enjoys looking at some of the old envelopes with stamps along with some “funny” looking photos. As for the other two my original comment still stands, who knows maybe just maybe something will spark their interest.

     Now as for my wonderful “nameless” daughter, her name starts with an “A”. I told Randy that out of all my children she was the only one who seemed to show some real interest. She even attempted to Google her teacher too find out about her ancestors. Don’t worry she didn’t get far and we focused on one of our own ancestors, so no laws were broken. She did surprise me though Wednesday of last week, she was invited to church with one of her friends. When she came home she was carrying in a blue pocket folder and wanted to show me what they talked about while at church.  To my surprise when she opened it all the information inside was about family, genealogy and the importance of it. I guess I should tell you the church she went to was “Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints”. Many of you already know the importance of genealogy research that all members of this church practice. I guess that’s what makes this so funny. See after they passed the folders out and told the children what they were about to discuss, my sweet daughter proceeded to tell everyone there that her mom knows EVERYTHING about genealogy that’s what she does all day long. I couldn’t help but laugh, I mean let’s face it EVERYTHING, I don’t think so. She did tell me after we finished reading over some of the material that she has decided she would like to do genealogy when she gets older.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

A Day on the Radio

     All I can say is, WOW! For those of you who don’t know, earlier today I was a guest on the FGS Radio- My Society, hosted by Randy Whited and had a great time. The focus was on “Promoting Genealogy to a Larger Audience” and how my recent appearance on “How the States Got Their Shapes” episode “North vs. South” on H2 contributed to that for myself.

     We talked about my start into this wonderful world of genealogy and how it came about that I was on the show. Many thanks again to Kathleen Brandt, a3genealogy; I guess you could say she’s my serendipity.  Kathleen and I met while I was doing some research in Missouri at the Midwest Genealogy Center. She happened to be teaching a class that I attended and during some discussions we became friends and continue that friendship with a few states between us. For those of you who haven’t see the new format for the series on H2 I recommend that when you get a chance you should watch. The format has changed from what was in place last year; it’s more of a game show format, something like “Cash Cab”.  As with any game show format there’s competition. But you didn’t see   that with Kathleen and me, as Randy pointed out and he was dead on. He could tell we were genealogist because it was obvious because we didn’t care who won, it was all about helping each other out and having fun, as all genealogist do.

     My appearance on the show has opened new doors for me and it also helped me to consider new areas that I want to add to my list. Education is defiantly one; I have the opportunity to talk to some of the classes at my children’s elementary school. I plan on taking in some photos and letters along with a diary and explaining these items and the importance they hold. I hope to give them a fun activity to do during the holiday break that they can share with their family. Maybe a list of questions to ask some of their relatives, there are many stories out there that our relatives have and just need to be asked to share. I know for my own kids I plan on giving each of them a small tape recorder and conduct interviews with different family members. Then save it upload it to my computer so they not only have the story but they also have the voice. 

     Something else I plan on looking further into is the lack of a genealogy society for military installations. Myself being a military spouse and doing research I know there’s a need. I started my research while stationed overseas and in doing so I wasn’t aware of the wealth of support and knowledge these different societies have to offer. I guess if you started your quest into the world of genealogy and research before leaving the states then you would be aware of what they have to offer. But I and other like me who start this adventure while out of country find support thru the internet research, not the same. I would like for there to be a “Military Genealogy Society” in place for all of us. One that no matter where we move, and trust me we move a lot and too many different places, have the support and knowledge to offer us. I plan on making a connection with some of the different organizations on the installation, especially the museums which happen to be on almost every installation.  

     This isn’t the last time you will see me blog on these topics, I will keep you up to date on all. I have more to say about what I came away with today during FGS Radio show, but I think this might be enough for now. So make sure you check in tomorrow. There was something my daughter said I want to share with all of you. It will put a smile, children and the love they have for their parents.

     In case you missed today’s episode you can log onto the FGS web site and listen.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Hidden Treasures Inside Letters

      Turkey, stuffing, green bean casserole and let’s not forget the pies.  That has been my life these past weeks and I have severely neglected my blog, for that I apologize. I do hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday and enjoyed the turkey with all the trimmings and of course your friends and family.  Some of us are now preparing for the Christmas season and its fast approaching. So if you don’t see a blog every day during this festive season just keep in mind I have children so with the decorating, shopping, baking and of course our new family tradition making “Gingerbread Houses” might interfere with my blogging.

      I believe in one of my first blogs I posted something about having accumulated thousands of letters, documents and photos throughout the years.  Some I won on eBay others I found at auctions, garage sales and even from my own family.  I wanted to talk about the process of scanning and the importance of saving these wonderful treasures but first I wanted to share something. 

     I’ve scanned everything from birthday cards to letters of joy and those of sympathy. While scanning all of them I noticed a hidden treasure within the treasure that some of us might miss.  Here take for instance something that was written in a letter I scanned last week;

“Sorry to hear about the passing of your Aunt Meredith last week. I’m sure it was hard for your mom being that it was two days before Christmas and all. Kristy and I were going to come by your house after the services but mom said she was worried about all the snow and ice. Did you and Robbie go to bingo or the USO dance? I think he’s truly got eyes for you and only you, no matter who he dances with.”

     From this one section of the letter you can see Aunt Meredith died December 23rd, the mother of the girl the letter is written to (Sara) is still alive.  Kristy and (Beth) are friends of Sara’s. This December was one with snow and ice. Sara, Kristy and Beth live somewhere close to where a USO is located so chances are military soldiers are around. Plus let’s not forget that Sara has a possible crush on Robbie and he could possibly be in the military.

     My point is, don’t be in a hurry to dismiss the “filler” in a letter, you might just miss something interesting and important.   Always take time to read the letters of your ancestors more than once, you might have missed something the first time. Plus don’t forget to take a special look at the envelopes the letters are mailed in.

I want to extend an exciting invitation to all of you who follow my blog. Tomorrow, Saturday, December 1st, I will be on FGS Radio – My Society, hosted by Randy Whited. I’m truly thrilled and honored to be part of this and have the opportunity to discuss my love and experience with genealogy and my recent appearance on “How the States Got Their Shapes”.  I hope you can listen in and I look forward to hearing your feedback.   Just click on the link below and enjoy.

Friday, October 26, 2012

It's Somewhere

     Well I’ve had enough of that tart taste of illness and now it’s time to pour a glass of sweet tea. During my time out, so to speak, I started looking at some family photos, some old and some not so old. I found a wide variety of photos; everything from births, birthdays, nature walks, holidays to a lot of miscellaneous photos. But I didn’t find a lot on the season of spooks…Halloween that is. Don’t get me wrong I did find some, but not as much as you would think.  Most of them were of my kids, of course, and some of my brothers and me growing up. I didn’t see any of my grandparents as children in costumes or even my own parents.  That really got me to thinking about this holiday we celebrate as kids.  Do we really know a lot about this particular holiday and if our ancestors celebrated it the same way we do, was it not a big deal, or was it viewed as a day of evil? Don’t get me wrong I love Halloween, dressing in costume, eating candy and yes having to chance to scare the… candy corn out of those who venture up my driveway. 

      But what about my ancestors, there aren’t any pictures of kids in costumes, stories or letters written about Halloween.  When we begin the trip back in time looking at the lives that our ancestors lived you might find a large mix of religious beliefs, some that wouldn’t allow such an event.  Then again you might even be surprised to find out they had never even heard of such a holiday. I just can’t help but wonder what my great or 3x great grandparents thought of this holiday.  

Did they know about it? 

Who or what would their costumes have been?

What would their costumes have been made out of?

Did they carry a carved pumpkin; go door to door repeating the now familiar saying “trick-or-treat”?

Were they given candy, baked goods or told to go away?    

     I know this might be somewhat of a strange blog post to most of you but it just caught my attention. The lack of photos and other information from my ancestors about this holiday that is. I would love to see my grandmother dressed in costume with her brother and sisters.  Just the stories alone… that picture could tell. I’m going to continue to search for that picture, I’m sure it’s out there somewhere or even a diary entry, or letter about that night.  

     No matter what, just because you don’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not there or it didn’t exist or even happen.  Some of the most interesting stories about our ancestors are out there, missing and waiting to be found.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Bad News and Good News

Bad News

     Sorry to have been an absent blogger these past few days but in light of a recent injury it has hampered my ability to sit for a long period of time. I hope to be back blogging like crazy sometime next week so don’t forget about me and check in every once in a while. Just a quick taste of what’s to come, finding a witch in your lineage, discovering a recently found grave or graves and I will begin sharing all my surname purchases made on eBay.

Good News

     Tonight you can catch Kathleen Brandt, a3genealogy, and I on History Channel 2. We will be appearing on “How the States Got Their Shapes” in the North vs. South episode as dueling genealogist. It is set to appear here in TN at 9PM so check your local listings; I promise you it’s very entertaining.  Comments and reviews are accepted… just remember I’m injured so be gentle.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

New Adventure Equals New Find

     Today my daughter and I went for a short walk with a destination in mind, but wasn’t really sure what I might find. The small neighborhood we live in is fairly new and the land was all owned by one family.   At some point this family decided to sell the land so homes could be built. Currently I don’t know a lot about the original land owner except that he still owns some land on the out lining area of the neighborhood.  Okay I seem to be talking in code here… let me get to the point.

     When driving into our neighborhood if you look closely you’ll notice a black metal fence wedged between two, typical wooden privacy fences. Upon a closer look, while still in the car you will notice two large trees, but they’re dead and have been, for as long as we have lived here. Not a leaf in site, those branches are necked except for the occasional bird or squirrel.  

     Today I decided to venture up there and see exactly what was there. I wasn’t really sure what we would find but deep down I was pretty sure it was some type of a cemetery. I was right; it was a cemetery of sort.  It was completely gated shut; there was no entrance into the lot.  At first glance you would think it was originally an old foundation for a house but upon closer look I didn’t believe that to be the case.  There was one large tree that looks to have been cut down, probably during the beginning stages of construction in the neighborhood. That seems to be the only tree removed, the two dead trees we saw from the road and in the gated area.  There are quite a few large rocks and even a few that look like foundation rocks for a home. We only saw one headstone in the whole fenced in area and it was leaning up against what looked to be the pedestal for it at one time. There’s no sign on the fence letting you know the name of the cemetery or even if it’s a family cemetery.  Don’t get me wrong it’s not trashed, the grass isn’t overgrowing but it just looks sad, lonely and forgotten.

     What I wasn’t really expecting was what my daughter said as we were walking back to the house; “mom you have to find out who it is and if there are more there”.  I knew I took her for a reason and now I have another mystery to solve.  All joking aside, she was right there isn’t any information and what if this was one of my ancestors or a client’s ancestor that I’m researching.   

     So this is what I’ve found out so far, and it was just thru a quick Facebook question on our neighborhood page. One story is that the cemetery belongs to the original owners of the land, but when I asked the name no one seems to know. Another story is that there are a few people buried there and some family is taking care of the plot, again name seems to escape them. The last bit of info sent to me was that the lady buried there died in you early 20’s, her husband buried her there by their home. He later remarried and is buried in some another cemetery in Clarksville.  

     I’ve learned two lessons on today’s adventure one is that you never know what you’ll come across when you venture out. Lesson number two maybe Facebook isn’t all that bad for asking some research questions.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Spirits, Ghost and Genealogy

     I couldn’t help myself:  maybe it’s that time of year…Halloween.  And I’m getting into the sprit!  Last week while I was helping out with a PTO book fair at my kid’s school, I was asked what I did for a living. Maybe it was the changing colors in the trees, the cooler temperatures or it was just the talk of decorating our house for Halloween, that morning before the kids got on the bus.  I couldn’t resist so I told them that “I talk to dead people for a living”. There was such a mix of expressions that came over their faces that I couldn’t keep a straight face and started laughing.

     Just the other day I was reminded of what I said, that day in the library.  Strange thing is it wasn’t a joke or a lie; I do talk to the dead and I listen to everything they have to say.  All of us who are searching in the world of genealogy isn’t’ that what we do. We read their letter, diaries, police reports, newspaper clippings and more.  A name of a loved one comes across our desk, either one of our own or someone that a client is asking us to research.  We collect all the information we have, and then review it. When we have finished speaking and listen to what that spirit has told us we seek more. Until we have a better picture of what this ghost is telling us.  Don’t forget some of us will even visit a cemetery or two to gather as much information as we can, granted we usually do it in the full light of the day.

     If any of you have ever watched one of those shows on TV like “Ghost Hunters”  you've noticed that one thing they are always out to do is debunk the stories they are told. They are looking for the facts, the truth. That is exactly what we do in the world of genealogy we hunt for the facts, the truth.  Along the way we listen to what they are telling us, research the facts and debunk any misconceptions that have been told.  
     So see we do listen and talk to ghost and spirits, even when it’s not Halloween. By the way I did tell them that I'm a genealogist, just in case you were wondering.  


Monday, October 8, 2012

Descendant Story Continues

     First  I want to thank all of you who have taken the time to not only read my blogs but also comment on them. In one of the comments I recieved today there was a question about a part two on the posting that I did yesterday. Believe it or not that story does continue and I have no problem sharing more on that experience. For those of you who don't know about yesterdays post, well then stop reading this one and look at yesterdays post. Just kidding...let me give you a quick overview.
     I was confronted with the thought, from someone else, that I should be ashamed of my family and keep the fact that I'm a descendant of a slave owner a secret. Ashamed I wasn't, I don't agree with what my 3x great grandfather did but he was my grandfather and that was a time in history. Reflecting on our lineage, the history of our families we learn that somethings aren't always sweet and wonderful.
     Imagine her surprise when I told her what I found out about the other side of my family during my research. Brace yourself for this one, not only am I the descendant of a slave owner but also a descendant of a slave. Okay now I'll give you a moment to picture the look on her face..mine had a smile on it. You can only imagine the questions that came from her.
"Did the other side know?"
"How can one side of the family live with the other knowing this?"
"What in the world are you going to tell your kids?"
     Those were just a few of her questions during our conversation. I had to take a moment and try to explain with out the obvious statement of "are you serious".
Finding out that you are a descendant of a slave was another "tart lemon" moment. Hearing that one of your ancestors was a slave owner and then finding out that you're also the descendant of a slave wasn't that much of a shock to me. Lets face it when we start to research into our family's history chances are you'll find that you are either the descendant of a slave or slave owner. Chances are that you will find both in your lineage on either side or maybe even both sides of your family.
     To be asked the question if the other side knew was pretty easy for me to answer with a  "how would I know". But obvioiusly they worked through it, I'm here after all, along with my kids.  That brings me to the question of telling my kids. I'm so happy that my kids enjoy hearing about what life was like for their ancestors. I didn't even give it a second thought when it came time to explain slavery and how that affected our family's history. They know that no matter what you have both the good mixed with bad and it takes both of them to make life, to make history. I felt as if this was the perfect opportunity to teach them about history and what part their ancestors played during this time in history.
     Slavery was wrong but unfortunately it happened and is part of our history. We have all discussed it and reflected on it many times whether through school, church or even conversations we've had with others. I've said it before, that was part of who makes us who we are today. Should we be ashamed of the actions taken by our ancestors, should we be angred by what others did to our anscostor. My thoughts on this are no, instead continue to learn from mistakes and bad choices made by others and don't repeat this time in history.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Quick Thought

Excuse me but aren't you ashamed of your family?
     That was a question recently asked of me while I was explaining that one of my ancestors was a slave owner.  I never gave it a second thought, that is about hiding it. But some felt as though I should keep it to myself, as if I had done something wrong. When you are truly passionate about searching to find your family's history, if you think for one second you're going to find nothing but angels, royalty and fame...wake up! That's why I love the name of my blog "Sweet Tea, Tart Lemons & Memories". This particular find would fall into that "Tart" category, bitter and hard to swallow. I'll be honest yes, it was somewhat of a shock and hard to swallow but that was part of my family. Now I want to be completely clear I don't agree with what he did, I don't in any way condone it. Yes, it's wrong in my eyes to own another human being and treat them as if they are a piece of property. But as I explained it to her that was my 3x great grandfather, not me, and during that time in history that was believed to be the way of life.
     It's OUR history and it's what makes us who we are today. If we all take time to look back into the history of our families we might not like everything that we see. But they are still family and you too don't have to agree with what took place during that time in history.  You should however take the time to learn about what life was like back then. By doing so you just might begin to understand that not everything is as good or bad as you think.  Laws were different, medical treatments were different and the education system was even different. Many things have changed over time and why have they changed, because we have learned from our past. Granted some changes you might not agree with but these changes were made by viewing our past, our history.

Friday, October 5, 2012

     Finally I've joined the world of blogging, yes I know it took long enough. I was hoping to have my blog up, running and looking good after I attended the Federation for Genealogical Society event back in September.  Unfortunately I'm my own worst critic and had to sub come to the idea that I'll get better at blogging with time, but I have to start. So since this is my first post and kind of an introduction as too what this blog is about, who I am and what services I offer,  I guess I should start with the blog name. Sweet Tea, Tart Lemons & Memories wasn't a difficult name to come up with, actually its a true description of genealogy research and the results we get. With every letter you read, newspaper clipping you find, research site or archive room you visit you might be faced with something a little Sweet that will make you smile. Maybe there will be some information that seems Tart, bitter and hard to swallow. No matter what they are Memories and that's what many of us look for when we begin the search into our families history, where they come from, what they did for a living, their adventures and what their lives were like.
     Now for a brief introduction to myself well where shall I start, you already know my name. So how about with what sparked my interest in the thrill of genealogy research and the mysteries that need to be solved as to who we are and where did we come from. About eight years ago while we were stationed in Germany I started to find a new hobby during my husbands 15 month deployment. No it wasn't genealogy but writing stories for young children and collecting ideas for those stories. I would go on the Internet auctions and purchase old diaries, letters and photo albums of people I didn't know. Creepy to some I know but the information you get about real life adventures is so overwhelming. After a period of time I began to realize I wanted to know more about these families, what brought them to the places they were living at. What else is out there about them and there families and the adventures they were on, both good and bad. That was the switch that flipped on the genealogy light for me and it's been on ever since and I have no desire to turn that light off. There are so many wonderful things to learn about our history and the history of our families.  I continue to learn more about my own ancestors and I want to help others start their research, find those missing pieces and break down those Brick Walls.
     The desire to learn more, speak my mind, give helpful hints and help others is what brought me to this point with the idea of blogging. Thank you for viewing my blog and please make yourself at home, click around on my blog to see more, tell me what you think and watch for daily posting.