Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Lull between Christmas and New Year’s

There was no lull for us this year. We flew into TX on the Monday after Christmas and were off to Dallas to pick up my family the following day. I do have to say, I’m not used to this small town living. We are 1.5 hours from Austin, 2.5 from San Antonio, and 3 from Dallas. We are right in the middle of nowhere. I call it Texas’s butt hole, but maybe that is not appropriate to put on my blog. I guess you should just ignore that previous sentence if it offends. The point is, it was a very long trip to get my family and come back. The trip was made even longer by the fact that we got lost, and it rained the entire time.

Once we successfully brought my family back to our lovely government living quarters, we had a grand ole time. I can’t remember much of what we did, but I do know that we spent a lot of time driving around because apparently we didn’t get enough driving on the 7 hour trip to and from Dallas. While they were here we did happen upon a lovely little German Imbiss. This place has wonderful and authentic German food. We ended up eating there twice in the three full days that my family visited. I also took them to the deer neighborhood. I was so excited to show them this cool neighborhood. So excited, in fact, that it prompted my mom to relentlessly tease me over my giddiness (who am I kidding? My mom does not need prompting).
So what is so special about this neighborhood? The DEER!!! It’s not that I haven’t seen deer before, because I’ve seen plenty and that’s not even counting petting zoo style. There is just something about this neighborhood (I’m guessing the woods directly behind it) that attracts so many deer at any given moment. You can drive through this neighborhood in the day or at night and there will be about 20 deer just chillin’ in people’s yards. If you wanted to, you could probably even stick your hand outside your car and pet one. Not that we did, because that’s just gross, but if you wanted to, you could.

Since I was unable to attend my family’s Christmas, we had Christmas again.
After our large breakfast and some wonderful apple cider that I made from scratch, we sat around the Christmas tree and exchanged gifts.
Later that night we went to see this really cool Christmas light show that they put on at a nearby lake and camping ground site. It was very nice. It probably took us about an hour to drive through the entire thing.

Although we spent New Year’s Eve with my family too, I’m going to save that post for another time. I really enjoyed the time that we got to spend with my family. Much like our trip to Minnesota, this visit was just too short. I also wish that my Dad and sister, Brittney, could have visited as well. I can’t wait to see my family again, but I’m thankful for the time I was able to spend with my mom and my two adorable siblings.

Here are a few more pics from my family's visit including our trip to the First Cavalry Museum.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

African American Genealogy

I have decided to focus my genealogical intentions on my dad's side of the family. I am starting with Huell and Walls; the names of my grandmother and grandfather respectively. This is proving to be a lot more difficult than I thought. My grandparents know very little about their parents and ancestors. I was able to get partial names from them and approximate death dates. My grandmother was able to give me some locations, which is helpful, but they know a lot more about cousins, aunts and uncles than direct ancestors. I never realized how difficult this was going to be. Fortunately, I have made some headway and have been able to find information that they didn't even know. My grandmother is enjoying the different things that I am finding, especially about her mother's line, since she died when my grandmother was only 4 months old. Another thing that has helped me has been the stories I did for the Advent Calendar. My grandmother unknowingly gave me a bunch of details that I have been able to use to form a partial time line. She doesn't even realize she knows these things until I point them out. I guess that is the power of story telling. You get so immersed in the memory that you are able to access information that you didn't even know you had stored. There are certain pieces of information that can only be accessed through the process of telling a story.

Anyway, the real point of this post was to share this helpful video for people starting out on their African American genealogy adventure. It may not be super helpful. I'm actually partial to Darius Gray because I have read the books he has authored with Margaret Blair Young and watched their movie called "Nobody knows: The Untold Story of Black Mormons" when they screened it in Hyde Park. Ben and I even got to Chauffeur them around after church. Do I sound like a groupy? Anyway, it is helpful if you are starting out on this journey. I hope you enjoy it!

No Fork In This Branch

I recently jumped into (what I consider) real genealogy. This interest was prompted by a closeness and familiarity I've felt to one of my ancestors named Mariah Elkins Loy. I contacted my grandmother about her. My grandmother is a genealogist and pretty good with all of that sort of stuff. We started digging around and found out a few more things that helped us flush out Mariah's story.

Once we figured out that little mystery, I started looking through my family tree that my grandmother has on I wasn't looking for anything in particular, but then I found something. I found a name that looked familiar. That's when I remembered Ben's mother telling us about a women named Mary Hooker in their family line. I couldn't remember exactly what she said about her because I was wondering why she decided to tell me about this women, when I should have been listening to the story instead. I do remember that at some point during her story I interjected with "What an unfortunate name." Anyway, the point is I'm glad Kathie told us the story, even though I'm the only one who remembers it, because we found out that my family and Ben's are related. You have to go back to the 1600's to find it, but it's there. I guess that is not really anything to be super excited about. I should probably be more creeped out by it actually. The thing is, you would never think that Ben's pure line of blonde hair and blue eyed direct descendants of Mayflower riding ancestry would ever cross paths in such a large way with my mutt mixture. Our lines even follow each other for a couple of generations!

Isn't that just fascinating...and slightly creepy. Of course, I embrace the creep factor by calling Ben cousin.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Christmas in Minnesota

For the first time ever, I spent Christmas away from my family. Luckily, no huge disaster occurred, I didn’t melt or anything. Anyway I was more likely to freeze in the Minnesota snow. Speaking of freezing, I learned that frogs freeze in the Minnesota winter and then come spring they thaw out and continue living their lives. Is it possible for me to do the same thing when Ben deploys?
We enjoyed our time in Minnesota. While we were there we went to the temple, which was really nice because instead of driving 3 hours we only had to drive about 15 minutes. I especially enjoyed Christmas Eve. The whole thing turned out to be quite a mystery. I kept asking people what sort of family traditions they had for Christmas Eve, and nobody seemed to remember what exactly they do every Christmas Eve.
It wasn’t until we got over to Ben’s brother’s place that the mystery was revealed. It was rather lovely. We had a nice Christmas dinner and gathered together for a spiritual devotional that they accented with illustrations of the story of Christ’s birth and Christmas hymns that we all sang together. Ben and I really enjoyed the wonderful spirit that we felt as we participated in this tradition and look forward to adding something similar to our own families repertoire of traditions.

Christmas day was certainly a completely different experience for me. The kids opened Santa’s gifts, and then we paused everything and ate breakfast. Breakfast was very good. We ate yummy breakfast burritos and sweet rolls.
After breakfast and phone calls to family, we opened the rest of our Christmas presents one at a time in order of birth. The rest of the day was very relaxed. Ben and I stayed in our pajamas all day as part of our own family tradition. We didn’t have a big dinner, but a lot of snacking on junk food throughout the day. The kids got to eat anything they wanted whenever they wanted on Christmas day including soda for breakfast. This most definitely has its ups and downs.
1.After eating so much junk food, I ended up very sick on the flight and trip back to TX.
2. I never felt fully satisfied even though it felt like I was constantly eating.
1. We got to eat stuff I wouldn't normally buy.
2. I don’t want to eat such fatty fried food for a very long time (maybe not until next Christmas). This is worth two on its own :)

Ben and I had a lot of fun spending time with the family in Minnesota. Both of us felt like the trip was way too short. This is by far my favorite visit to MN, and as a result I’m now fancifully considering living there after our stint in the Military.