Monday, June 26, 2017

Twig of Joy

Roo's Take on the Kitchen Sign

Family History

My latest obsession is family history research. 

I always suspected I would not only enjoy it but be very good at it... if I could only figure out how to get started.  It was overwhelming, since I come from one of those families where so much research has already been done.  I was going to have to be some kind of an expert to do any new research on my direct line.  I liked the idea of becoming that expert, but not at this stage of my life.  Someday...

In recent years I have had many people tell me "there's so much you can do!  Just dive in and do it!"  "You'll be so blessed!"  "I know we moms are so busy, but when you work on family history you receive blessings that will actually make your load lighter."  And I would always think "I WANT to do that... but... how?" 

Several weeks ago I got on the Family Search website and just started looking around.  I thought maybe I could find some new documents to attach to some of my ancestors.  They're indexing new records all the time, so there were probably some new things to add.  It wouldn't be as exciting as finding brand new links to people, but it would be helpful. 


I noticed that Great Uncle Harold had a marriage certificate that could be attached to his profile.  When I attached it, I found that it contained the names of his wife's parents, who were not even in the Family Search system.  I was dumbfounded... surely someone had put these puzzle pieces together before?  I did a quick search on these people and-- boom!-- I was looking at a picture of their gravestone.  And there was additional information to add, including an additional person who was not on Family Search.  Until I added them

I don't know when I have had such a high.  What a thrill, to discover new branches of the family tree! 

That particular line dead-ended at that point, but I was hooked.  I could do new research and find people!!!!  I started looking on collateral lines on my ancestry and I have found no end of research to be done. 

I quickly realized that I was born to do this work.  I love family history.  I love puzzles.  I love the internet.  I love organizing.  I love solving problems.  I love getting absorbed in solitary projects for hours and hours.  I see clearly now that family history is one of my main callings in life. 

I went a bit nuts for awhile... I was working on family history every spare minute I had.  It was more productive than Facebook or reading novels or almost any other leisure activity I enjoy.  Sometimes it went beyond leisure time... the dishes and laundry would get a bit backed up because I was piecing together a family.

I have calmed down a bit now (see, I'm blogging again!) but I haven't quit and I'm not going to.  I believe in life after death.  I believe that the souls of these people-- who now are just names and dates in a census or cemetery record-- are very much  alive, and they want to be found.  They want to be linked together with their families.  All my life I have been reading stories about people doing family history, talking about how they felt the influence of those beyond the veil.  Now I have felt it for myself.  They need my help and they are urging me on.  Let the laundry pile.  It can wait a bit. 

It blows me away how amazing it is.  People used to have to spend hours and hours walking through cemeteries or searching through records in the county courthouse.  They would send away for microfilms and when they finally came, search and search only to not find what they were looking for and have to start over again.  My aunt and my grandma did family history this way, and I can just imagine them saying, "LOOK at you!!!!!  LYING IN BED with your laptop computer and within seconds being able to find so much.  All while your washing machine and dishwasher slosh away and your crockpot cooks dinner."    We have the free time (yes, even I have some free time!) and we have these unbelievable resources.  And there's this totally fun, addictive, exciting thing to do that actually matters in the eternal scheme of things!  Just, WOW. 

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Fish Selfies

When Fish had to wait for me in the car yesterday, I should have known there would be a bunch of goofy selfies on my phone.

Bird Friend

There was a fledgling robin that got slightly injured in our backyard.  Our kids adopted it and have been helping to take care of it.  Its mother hovers near and she has been feeding it, but it doesn't seem to mind the kids making it a bed in part of the doll house and giving it flying lessons.  At first I thought "oh boy, this is going to be a tragedy one way or another," but this has been going on for several days now and the bird seems to be doing really well.

They keep changing his name... every time I talk to one of the kids they're calling it something different.  Tiger, Meep, Prince Mario, whatever his name is, he sure is bringing my kids a lot of joy.

Friday, June 23, 2017

A New Favorite

I really love this Zevia soda, sweetened with stevia, which is an all-natural, zero-calorie sweetener.

I am not a soda drinker.  In fact, I have been known to get on quite a soapbox about how bad soda is for you.  But that's mostly because of the sugar and/or artificial stuff, which this doesn't have.

 I also am always telling the family we can't afford to drink our food budget.  Water is the beverage in our house.

But I also think moms deserve some little indulgences.  Right?   A secret stash of something that the kids aren't allowed to touch?

A cold, sweet soda sure tastes good when you've been working outside on a hot day.  And when I drink one of these, it satisfies my sugar craving and I stop thinking about ice cream.  And when you live perilously close to one of your favorite ice cream joints, that's a really good thing.

Long live Zevia!

A Terrifying Picture

I was going to put this off as long as possible, but they're ready now.  I'm not, but I have done this before.  I'm just going to go slow and try not to stress about it.



Thursday, June 22, 2017

June Days

Piano lessons are taking a summer break, but the Rabbit still plays all the time. 

Peanut helped me pick out some flowers at the nursery clearance sale. 

Bean has to start fires without matches for his wilderness survival merit badge.  We could get lots of smoke and singed stuff with the magnifying glass, but so far no flame.  No luck with any of the battery/steel wool/foil methods either.  What are we doing wrong?

Roo earned a beautiful doll from Target as her reward for finishing 5th grade in our homeschool. 

Little critters with crackers...

Frog and the Badger strolling through the woods... idyllic. 

Leaf loves water!

Playing at our favorite outdoor place. 

Oh, Rabbit!

This is my favorite view of the twins... ASLEEP.

Fish went to Space Camp at the Cosmosphere in Hutchinson, Kansas.  It was a huge sacrifice for us to get him there, but it was well worth it.  He loved it.  Here he is at camp graduation with his mission crew.  I remember when I was a kid in Minnesota I would see TV commercials for this same camp and I wanted to go SO BAD.  But it was in Kansas.  There was no way.  It felt fulfilling to send my kid there, especially since it was a dream come true for Fish too. 

Bean did this to my kitchen sign:

So I changed it to this:

Here is the Badger on Father's Day morning reading our traditional "I Love My Daddy" by Sebastian Braun. 

June is going well so far!


I. Love. Fireflies. 

We have a lot in our backyard this year, and they are bringing us much joy. 

I wish they weren't so hard to photograph. 

Frog, Peanut, and the Rabbit are my most enthusiastic firefly catchers this year. 

A Fairy Garden

For a long time now, the girls and I have been talking about making a fairy garden in the back corner of the backyard.  There's a garden plot back there that doesn't get a lot of sun, so it's not a terrific place for vegetables.  We have had this dream of filling it with bushes and flowers and a bench and an arbor and paving stones, and then adding fairy stuff like figurines and homemade fairy houses. 

We're still a ways out from having the money to put something like that together, but this year we wanted to do something.  I went to the plant nursery when they were having their end-of-season sale and everything was half off.  I bought a bunch of pretty flowers, and the girls were just thrilled.  We spent a very happy evening arranging and planting in part of the "fairy garden" area.  Since the plants are annuals, we can start over next year on a larger scale, but for now we are so excited to have our own little fairy garden. 

Friday, June 9, 2017

Evidence of Twig

Twig is my current apple thief.  Yesterday she fell asleep on the couch with a half-eaten apple in her hand.  She left several other nibbled apples in her wake.  

Maybe I need to move the apples.  Maybe not. 


Here we are rocketing through June at lightning speed.  So much is going on.  Here is my latest dump of random pictures.

Frog's sailor suit still fits, mostly, and he loves to wear it to church.  Frog, you are awesome.  

Our stake did a race again this year... I wasn't feeling up to doing the 5K, so I decided to just do the mile fun run with the kids.  Which meant I ran/walked with Peanut and Frog at their pace.  It was fun.  

I cannot figure out how Bean has gotten so absolutely huge.  He was always a very normal-sized child.  Then all the sudden he just exploded.   He is strong as an ox, and has developed a reputation for being a hard worker.  People have been paying him quite well for help with arduous projects.  They and I also appreciate his cheerful temperament.

He recently attended BSA's National Youth Leadership Training.  I made him go, but he really enjoyed it and learned a lot. 

So, one of the twins' favorite activities is removing the heat vent covers.  It unearths a very interesting and mysterious hole.  Which you can then throw things down.  We have learned that if we stick a phone camera down there and take a picture with flash, we can see what they threw down there.  Yay technology!

It's the time of year I get to reorganize the homeschool room.  Blah.  

Another project I need to tackle this summer is the laundry room.  It's getting a little out of hand.  The clothing system has worked well, but other things need to be reorganized and decluttered.   The clothing system to which I refer is how my four middle kids (Roo, Rabbit, Peanut, and Frog) have all their clothes in a basket in the laundry room instead of a dresser in their room.  Saves me heaps of time on laundry because I never have to fold their clothes-- just toss them from the dryer into the basket.  And when we clean their room, the mess is never clothes, just toys.  I am glad we have enough room in our laundry room in this house to configure it like this because it has been so helpful. 

A couple random shots of current life.  

This one... I have no idea who took it, like most of the picture I find on my phone.  Most of which I delete.  But I'm keeping this one because it's one of those mundane things that I see every day, but 100 years from now my descendants are going to say, "wow, that's what your washing machine looked like?  Weird!"  So there you go.  

Growing Things

My flower bed out front is bringing me a lot of joy.  It still has a ways to go, but it is looking better and better. 

I wasn't eager to get back outside and do yardwork this spring-- I still am not sure why-- but the work had to be done, regardless of how I felt about it.  I'm always telling my kids that-- that work has to be done no matter how we feel about it...  "Kids, it doesn't matter if you want to or not, you have to do it anyway."  One of life's key lessons. 

Another key life lesson, of course, is that you can choose to want to.  And most work, once you get going at it, is not only not that bad, it's satisfying.  My flower bed has been very satisfying work. 

Remember: our first summer here, two years ago, my whole front flower bed was a nasty overgrown mess.  I fought a losing battle with it all summer, and finally in the fall the young men from our ward came over and helped us rip out all the landscaping fabric, river rock, and bark mulch that was the problem.  That was such an amazing blessing.  Once I had bare dirt, I could dig all the Bermuda grass roots completely out.

Last summer I planted a bunch of stuff out there.  I got two crape myrtles and four spirea bushes from someone who was giving them away and they were just perfect.  I bought a bunch of perennials and a few annuals.  The end result was lovely.

One of the crape myrtles was happy all last summer and the other struggled.  This spring, the struggling one leafed out quite nicely,

but the one that was happy all last year showed no signs of life.  I was sad.  I would look at it every day as I left the house and think "I guess I have to pull it out since it's dead."

Then one day, weeks after everything else had woken up and bloomed, I saw a teeny tiny something down at the base of my dead crape myrtle.  Could it be?  Yes, the roots had survived and were sending up new growth from the very bottom of the plant.  Hooray! 

It's funny how sentimental I can get about my plants. 

This spring I met a neighbor who has a breathtaking backyard garden.  Like, people come to tour it, it's that amazing.  One day she showed up at my door with a box of perennials she had dug out.  I found them all homes among the many bare spots I still have out there.  You can see some of the lamb's ear in the picture below-- it's in transplant shock in the picture, but it is now recovering.  I got several lamb's ear, campion, bee balm, and a couple other things I can't remember.  They were just what I needed, since I haven't been to the nursery and purchased anything this year. 

At this point, most of what I need is time.   What a joy it will be over time to watch everything grow and bloom!