31 December 2010

11 for 11

Happy New Year, Everyone
My 2011 genealogy goals are:
  1. Scan pictures!  (My darling hubby bought me a flip pal for Christmas)
  2. Work on my brickwall, Daniel Fenn.
  3. Make a concentrated effort to source every fact as I add it to my software program.
  4. Visit Miami County, Indiana to research Casper and Mary Graf further.
  5. Obtain my grandfather's, Otto August Fredrick, obituary.
  6. Attend a genealogical conference.
  7. Start researching my son-in-law's ancestry.
  8. Talk to my mother and find out about family heirlooms in her possession.
  9. Carve out a regular research time. 
  10. Make contact with newly discovered cousins and share information.
  11. Research myself!  Add my personal facts to my genealogical software.
I hope this list will help focus my research and keep me organized.  What would you like to accomplish in 2011?

24 December 2010

Advent Calendar: Christmas Eve

I started my Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories by asking my children to guest blog and decided it would be a good way to end it for this year.  Here are Kirsten and Travis' memories of Christmas Eve.

Keeping with the tradition of the Glover women loving to present elaborate spreads that would put any foodie in a food coma, comes Christmas Eve.  Always hosted by my Grandma Glover.  The number of family members and traditions changed slightly through the years starting with a buffet of appetizers, snacks, and desserts and then gradually shifting to a grown up dinner featuring steak and multiple kinds of potatoes and fruit salads.  The one constant?  Wrapped Christmas ornaments, candy canes, and that tiny Christmas china dish filled with red and green M&Ms...

Christmas eve was a great tradition of going over to my Grandma and Grandpa Glover's house.  We got to open our gifts from that side of the family.  Every year we made the drive over to Portage, Michigan and arrived to grandma making way more food than we needed.  My grandparents have given all the grandchildren a hallmark line ornaments every year.  Each year I would try to open that first so the surprise would not be ruined by my cousin opening the same gift before me.

19 December 2010

Kirsten's Birthday-My Memories of Her Birth

Happy Birthday, Kirsten
Less than 24 hours New

My daughter, Kirsten Rae, was born December 19th at 11:27 p.m.  in Deckerville, Michigan.  She was 19 1/2 inches long and weighed 7 pounds, 5 ounces and look at all that black hair!  We named Kirsten after my husband and I.  Her first name has the first three letters of Kirk's and my middle name is Rae. 

I had a uneventful pregnancy.  Once my morning sickness subsided I felt great.  I had stopped working about a week before she was born.  The day before I went into labor I had made a refrigerated date cookie, planning to bake them in the morning.  I woke up about 4 a.m. with contractions.  I wasn't sure if it was the real thing or not.  I got up and decided if it was labor, I needed to get my cookies baked.  So, while have contractions, I baked cookies!  They talk about the nesting instinct and the week before she was born, I had a ton of energy and was cleaning, baking and sewing. 

I was in labor for 19 hours with Kirsten and delivered without any pain medication.  The hospital I was in, Deckerville Community Hospital, was pretty old-fashioned.  They had separate labor and delivery rooms.  The delivery room looked like an operating room.  I spent less than an hour in the delivery room before being moved to a hospital room.  Her delivery went smoothly.  This was in the days before you knew the sex of your baby.  So, I remember the excitement of finding out it was a girl.  Kirk was allowed to be in the delivery room with me, but for my support only.  No cutting the cord, weighing her or anything.

The first time I held Kirsten was in the delivery room.  I remember being overwhelmed with feelings.  I thought she was the most beautiful baby I had ever seen.  She looked so tiny to me.  When she looked at me with those big brown eyes, I knew I was in love.  She was a very alert newborn.  Kirk and I were so excited that we called our parents around midnight.  This was in the days before email and texting.

Kirsten was soon brought to us and we enjoyed about 20 minutes with her before they whisked her off again.  She was born very healthy.  This hospital didn't encourage rooming in, even though I chose to breastfeed.  I spent three days total in the hospital.  Kirk's parents were the first to arrive to see Kirsten.  She was born on a Monday night and they came on Wednesday.  They were living across state from us at the time.  My mother flew from Texas on December 26th to help me with my new baby.

A daughter is a special blessing, and Kirsten is very special to me.  Happy Birthday, Honey.

18 December 2010

Advent Calendar: Christmas Stockings

Did you have one? Where did you hang it? What did you get in it? Do you have any Christmas stockings used by your ancestors?

I don't have any of my ancestors' stockings, but I hope that my homemade cross-stitched stockings will be an heirloom of the future.  Someday, a great grandchild of mine will see these and know they were made with love. 

My first child, Kirsten, was born days before Christmas and I knew I wanted to have Christmas stockings that I could keep for years.  I started making our stockings while I was pregnant for Kirsten.  I didn't finish them until after she was born.  I miscalculated the size of them and they turned out smaller than I thought they would.  More stocking stuffers were left out of the stockings than were put in them. 

After Santa filled the stockings, he would lay them in front of the tree on the floor.  Kirsten and Travis were always allowed to open their stocking stuffers while Mom and Dad got the sleep out of their eyes and grabbed a cup of coffee on Christmas morning.  When everyone was ready and sitting in the living room, we would open gifts.

Through the years Santa would be known to put life saver books, candy cane tube of peanut butter cups, baseball cards, little toys, lip gloss, etc.  More recently Santa has been known to put lottery tickets, Starbuck/fast food gift cards and movie ticket gift certificates.  An occasional pack of baseball cards still finds it way into my son's stocking.

I have a special surprise for the stockings this year.  Shhh!  don't tell anyone.

17 December 2010

Advent Calendar: Grab Bag-Let it Snow!

Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow! 

Winter 1988
Travis and Kirsten sledding in our front yard in Battle Creek, Michigan. 
The darling sled was hand made by their Grandfather, Jim Leyndyke

Having lived my whole life in Michigan, if it doesn't snow at Christmas it just doesn't feel right.  I love snow as long as I don't have to drive long distance in it.  There is nothing like the first snow of the season. 

Snow brings the opportunity to go sledding.  As a child, my friends and I would drag our sleds to the golf course and go down the hills there.  If we weren't sledding we would be skating.  The city tennis courts would be flooded with water and frozen into a nice skating rink.  One half was for skaters and the other half was for hockey.  Sometimes we would skate on Lake Huron, after it froze over.  (Just don't tell my mother)  I remember my first time on a toboggan.  We were visiting friends and we went tobogganing on what I remember as one gigantic hill!  There were 4 of us on this toboggan and off we go.  We were in a wooded area and it seems the trees were really close.  I remember being scared, but thought it was great fun.  The worst part was getting back up the hill.

When my children were young, we would take them sledding also.  We started out around our yard, and progressed to the elementary school's small hill.  Sometimes we would take them to Riverside Country Club and when they were much older, the steep hill at Leila Arboretum, all in Battle Creek.  Travis remembers snow and Christmas like this:

"Having moved away from Michigan one thing I have realized that I took for granted was the change in seasons. As it's often joked about in my beloved home state of Michigan is that we only have 2 seasons, Construction and Winter, this is certainly not the case. As much as I dislike the cold and snow it certainly has a direct relationship with Christmas for me.
All of my Holiday memories involved snow or staying inside avoiding snow. Some of my favorite childhood activities involved playing outside. I always cherished our trips sledding with my sister and parents, whether it was walking up to our local elementary or on special occasions we would go to the big hills at the local country club. Even better than the sledding was coming inside and laying on the heat vents to warm up while mom made hot chocolate for us."

We have spent a couple of Christmas' in warmer climate without snow and it just doesn't feel like Christmas without snow.  The crunch of the snow under your feet as you walk over snow covered pathways and through glistening trees is truly magical.  So, Let it Snow!

15 December 2010

Advent Calendar: The Holiday Happenings!

I don't know what I was thinking to have both of my children close to Christmas!  (I guess March was a cold month!)  Both of my children have birthdays near Christmas.  My daughter, Kirsten, was born December 19th and my son, Travis, was born January 6th.  Travis' due date was actually December 25th.

Kirsten and Dad, 1st Birthday

Kirsten was born during a snow storm.  We lived in a small town, Deckerville, in the thumb of Michigan.  The hospital was a very short drive, 1 minute, from our apartment.  Kirsten was born at 11:27pm.  In the morning when I looked outside it was like a picture from a Christmas card.  Snow draped trees were glistening.  My husband bought me a gold snowflake pendant necklace and brought it to the hospital in remembrance of her birth.  Our first Christmas with a baby was wonderful.

Travis with his birthday paper wrapped gifts on his 1st birthday

We had moved the fall that I was pregnant for Travis.  We were living in Harbor Springs, Michigan which is in the Northwestern part of Michigan.  The nearest hospital was about 15 miles away.  I was thankful we had a mild winter that year.  Although, when my husband took the railroad tracks a little fast, I thought I would deliver him in the car.  When he was ready to be born, he wasn't going to wait!  This time I received a beautiful sapphire ring, which is my birthstone.

One of the things I made sure of was to make their birthdays special.  These are my tips for making December birthdays special:
  1. Use birthday wrapping paper, not Christmas paper. 
  2. Make their day as special as you would if it was held any other time of the year.
  3. Let them choose what kind of birthday cake they want.  One year my daughter wanted a reindeer cake, but most of the time she wanted a birthday cake.
  4. Decorate for their birthday.  Yes, the tree is up but make the table, their chair, the dining room birthday festive.  Put balloons up, let them know that their day is special.
  5. Relax and enjoy their birthday.  It doesn't matter what is left to do on your Christmas list.  It is their day.

13 December 2010

An Exciting Honor: 2011 Best Genealogy Blogs Nominees

It has been an unsually hectic day combined with disappointing news on my son's job front, so I decided to take some 'me' time and catch up on my blog reading.  I am two days behind and fear it will only get worse as the week progresses.  Imagine my surprise when I see on Geneabloggers that my blog has been nominated for the Family Tree Magazine 2011 Best Genealogy Blog in the new blog category.  I had to look at it twice to make sure I was actually seeing my blog listed!

I am extremely appreciative for the nomination.  Thank you to all my readers and supporters for the positive feedback that keeps me blogging.  Thanks also to those that nominated my blog for this honor.  I am still in shock, I think. 

Congratulations to all the nominees!  I am honored to be included in their category.  I recognized a lot of blogs, many are ones I read regularly.

Thanks to Tom at Geneabloggers for posting the nominees.  Check the list out and don't forget to vote for your favorite.  You have until 11:59 p.m., December 20th to vote.

12 December 2010

Advent Calendar: Charitable/Volunteer Work

Did your family ever volunteer with a charity such as a soup kitchen, homeless or battered women’s shelter during the holidays? Or perhaps were your ancestors involved with church groups that assisted others during the holiday?

I have always felt that the Christmas season was a special time to share our blessings with those less fortunate.  Kirsten and Travis were very young when my husband and I tried to instill the value of helping others.  We started out by taking them to the grocery store and buying groceries (peanut butter, tuna, mac and cheese, soup, etc.) for the baskets at our church.  Our church, St. Peter Lutheran, would set baskets out and ask church members to donate food for what we called our Christmas families.  Families in need were identified in the community and then organizations would be assigned families to provide a Christmas dinner and gifts for.  Our church would have a food collection for more than just Christmas dinner.  Our church was very generous with their giving.  I remember the church started with 7-8 families and expanded to about 40 in recent years.

Later, as the children got older, we would sign up to purchase a gift for a certain child from the above Christmas families in addition to giving food.  The kids would usually pick a child close to their age to buy for.  Sometimes it would be a toy, book, or clothes.  Some years there would be a hat and mitten tree that the kids would decorate and items were donated.

So, from their youth my children have been giving to others.  I have seen numerous examples of my kids generosity to those less fortunate and it continues today.  I am a very proud mom.

10 December 2010

Advent Calendar: Christmas Gifts-Larry the Lion

December 10 – Christmas Gifts:  What were your favorite gifts, both to receive and to give? Are there specific gift-giving traditions among your family or ancestors?

Some children had Zippy the Monkey, or Crackers the Parrot, but I had Larry the Lion.  I loved Larry the Lion.  I remember getting him for Christmas.  I must have been 5 at the time.  He talked by pulling a string and his mouth moved when he did.  The sayings I remember him saying are:   "Grrrrr, I'm Larry Lion"; "Grrrr, I scared myself" and "I'll protect you."  I remember his felt tongue, furry coat, and whiskers.  I also remember one of my teachers making fun of me because I brought him for show and tell. I never liked her after that.  (I'm over it-really I am)

When I was planning to write about Larry the Lion, I decided to do a little research on him.  He was made by Mattel and had 11 sayings.  You can find a vintage Larry the Lion on ebay for about $40.  The ones with the whiskers still intact are the desirable ones.

I don't know what happened to Larry the Lion, hopefully he went to a good home.  I do remember he was losing some of his fur and didn't sit up very well.  Ahh, what a nice childhood memory.

08 December 2010

Advent Calendar: Christmas Cookies-Grandma's Date Nut Balls

December 8 – Christmas Cookies:  Did your family or ancestors make Christmas Cookies? How did you help? Did you have a favorite cookie?

This is one of my all time favorite cookies to make at Christmas time.  They are quick and easy and add a different texture to the cookie platter.  

Date Nut Balls
(A Recipe from My Grandmother Sarah Lilla Watt Glover Bell)

1 c. dates
1 c. sugar
1 stick of oleo
Combine and cook 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Cool. Stir in 2 ½ cups rice krispies and 1 t. vanilla and nuts. Cool about 8 minutes. Roll in balls then roll in coconut (long).

I wrote the recipe as it was given to me. I smile when I see the ingredient oleo in a recipe. I know that recipe is an old one. Oleo was a term used in the forties and fifties. It was short for oleomargarine; which we now know as margarine. I don’t have a lot of my grandmother’s recipes but this is one I enjoy making at Christmas time.

06 December 2010

Advent Calendar: Santa Claus

Did you ever send a letter to Santa? Did you ever visit Santa and “make a list?” Do you still believe in Santa Claus?

One of the best days of the year was when the Sears Christmas Catalog arrived in the mail.  I remember my sister, Linda, and I combing through it and oohing and aahing over the cool things.  The sparkly Barbie clothes, a Barbie Dream House and beautiful jewelry were always drooled over.  I would start my list to Santa from this catalog.

After my list was complete I would anxiously wait until Santa came to town and we could go visit him.  One year, I was 7, we went to the Village Hall to see Santa.  I was ready, I had my list in my head.  I sit on Santa's lap and notice his wedding ring.  Where had I seen that before?  I remember it looking familiar to me.  Next, I noticed his white eyebrows.  Weird, they look painted on.  I told Santa what I wanted and went on my way believing I would get at least one thing from my list.  Santa had been pretty good to me in the previous years.

Later that day I was playing at home and the doorbell rang.  I don't remember if I answered the door or not, but I do remember standing at the bottom of the stairs and coming to the realization that the man at the door was Santa!  He didn't have his Santa suit on, but there were those stupid painted eyebrows!  And now I knew why the wedding ring looked familiar.  The man at the door was a friend of my dad's.  My dad taught high school and this man was a teacher, too.  It was at that moment that I knew there wasn't a Santa Claus.  I remember asking my parents, later, if there really was a Santa.  They were reluctant to tell me, but being stubborn (yes, I admit it) I wouldn't give up and they finally admitted to it.

So, Mr. Wright next time you play Santa, please wash your eyebrows!

05 December 2010

Advent Calendar: Outdoor Decorations and The Festival of Lights

December 5 – Outdoor Decorations:  Did people in your neighborhood decorate with lights? Did some people really go “all out” when decorating? Any stories involving your ancestors and decorations?

Travis and Kirsten, Christmas 1992
Resting at Friendship Park

Christmastime in Battle Creek is a wonderful experience.  The city has what is known as, "The International Festival of Lights".  At the completion of the Christmas parade, held the Saturday before Thanksgiving, a switch is flipped and the downtown area is bathed in glorious Christmas colors.  In past years, before the recession, the light displays were spectacular.  The last couple of years haven't been quite as phenomenal, but it still puts me in a Christmas mood when I see them. 

Battle Creek River looking east, Kellogg House is in the background-1992

Sometime during the holiday season we would bundle up the kids and drive downtown to walk along the river and see the light displays.  I always enjoyed going when there was a covering of snow on the ground.  The special displays I enjoy are the 12 Days of Christmas display near the Kellogg House and an international Christmas display near Friendship Park and the river.  The Kellogg World Headquarters is decorated all in red lights.  The top of the building and lines of trees sparkle.

Kellogg's World Headquarter
Christmas 2010
Clara's Restaurant at Christmas 1992

Clara's Restaurant is a favorite stopping place for a hot drink or dessert.  The restaurant is in the old train station and sits on the river.  You can get a window seat and enjoy the lights from indoors.

The street we live on does a nice job with outdoor decorations.  You will see everything from classic lights on the roof line, to icicle lights, to Santa on the roof and a blow up Snoopy Snow Globe.  I like to decorate with white lights only, my husband likes the multi-colored ones. (opposites attract!)  I, or I should say my husband, decorate the bushes in the front of the house and then the roof line.  Wreaths are placed with garland on the front windows.  The front door is draped in lighted garland and 2 topiary trees welcome holiday visitors.  When we had a light post out front, it was decorated with red ribbon to look like a candy cane.  The Christmas Tree in the center of the front window completes the look.  Oh and what color lights are we using this year?  White, of course.

02 December 2010

Advent Calendar: Holiday Foods

December 2 – Holiday Foods:  Did your family or ancestors serve traditional dishes for the holidays? Was there one dish that was unusual?

Food was always a big part of the Christmas holiday when I was growing up.  My mother is an excellent cook and made most things from scratch.  I acquired my love of cooking from her.  I don't remember any traditional dishes being made, but I remember the goodies my mom would bake.  Fudge, cookies, and fruit  breads were always around during the holidays. 

These two recipes are one's I use today, they are both from my mother.

Sour Cream Sugar Cookies
1/2 cup oleo(margarine)
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup sour cream
3 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Cream margarine and sugar together.  Add egg.  Add sour cream and vanilla.  Mix flour, soda and salt together.  Stir into creamed mixture .  Chill for 30 minutes for easier rolling.  Roll dough to 1/4 inch thickness.  Cut out with cookie cutters.  Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes.  Cool and decorate as desired.

Milk Chocolate Fudge Mix 1 1/4 cup sugar, 1/4 cup butter, 3/4 cup evaporated milk, and 1-7 ounce jar marshmallow topping in heavy 2 quart pan.  Bring to boil, stirring constantly.  Reduce to medium when bubbles appear all over the top.  Stir 8 minutes.  Remove from heat and add 2 cups milk chocolate chips.  Stir until melted.  Add 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1 cup chopped nuts.  Pour into greased 8 inch pan.  Cool thoroughly.

01 December 2010

Advent Calendar: Christmas Tree Trimming

Did you have a real tree or was it artificial? How big was the tree? Who decorated the tree? What types of Christmas trees did your ancestors have?

Christmas 1991
Travis Puts the Angel on the Tree with help from Dad

For this first day of the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories I tapped my children and asked them to guest blog on their memory of our tree trimming activities.  Here are each of their memories:

Kirsten remembers:
The tree trimming party was arguably our biggest small event.  While every extended family get together involved massive amounts of food, the tree trimming was just for us, and still had lots of food.  Mom would make anything we wanted, from the culinary exquisite to the lowly and delicious...mozzarella sticks.  As I've grown up, I've always remembered our tree trimming parties fondly.  Although some of my favorite memories are the ones that weren't so funny at the time, the year Travis knocked over the lamp and broke it, or how we would fight over who got to put the angel on the top of the tree (you'll note that the photo for the story is of Travis putting the angel up).  Christmas at home will always have a place in my heart.  If I ever have a family someday, the tree trimming tradition is one I will definitely keep in the family.

Travis remembers:
A great memory of the holidays was our tree trimming party. Well, it was filled with a big helping of mom's type A personality from time to time.   Even with her having the Christmas tree lights evenly spaced out it was always a fun evening. Putting on Christmas music and having a large spread of appetizer snacks and decorating the tree is something I will always remember. The biggest part of the evening happened at the end when it came time to put the angel on top of the tree. Every year my sister and I wanted to do it and would lie about who did it the year before (I still think she got to do it more times than I did). It got to the point that we had to write down each year on the box who put it up so we wouldn't have to go through the same process every year.  Christmas is always a special time of year and I absolutely love all the traditions my family has.  Unfortunately, I wasn't able to make it home last year but cannot wait to make it back this year and be apart of the family traditions again.

I loved reading my children's recollections of our tree trimming party.  They're pretty accurate and my type A personality would surface from time to time!  But, I have proof we shared the angel topping.  I guess it was for sentimental reasons that I kept this.  I use to write it on the box top of the angel box.  When I got rid of the box I tore this off and stored it with other Christmas decorations.  As you can see, they got equal time!  2001 was the last Christmas before Kirsten left for college.  Once they got into high school they weren't as enthused about it!  Recently, I have been putting the tree up myself.  It isn't the same, but the memories we made come back the minute I begin decorating.  I look forward to making new memories as I welcome new family members into our family.

(Just for the record, I do have pictures of Kirsten topping the tree, but I am in the middle of redoing all of the kids photo albums and couldn't put my hands on it in time for this post!)