Friday, December 31, 2010

2010's Top Favorite Posts, Mostly Mine

Carol from Reflections From the Fence shamed me into writing this post for Barbara, my 'distant cousin', at Life At the Roots.  Barbara and Carol are so knowledgeable that I feel dwarfed in their world.  Nevertheless, I will stretch and grow on the last day of the year.
My Top 5 Favorite Posts are as follows.

1.  1/31/2010 Sentimental Sunday The Hero Posts (1st one)

2.  1/1/2010 17th Edition of the Carnival of Irish Heritage @Culture Irish Treasures

3.  7/3/2010 July Fourth Tribute to Benawell Bonfoey Connecticut 6th Regiment

4.  7/6/2010  B D Langley and the Anti Horse Thief Association

5.  6/6/2010  Sentimental Sunday The Hero and Lemon Pie

Okay so I am partial to the Hero stories.  I am excited that I have stayed on track with these and hope next year to compile them for my family.  Thanks Barbara for the prompt.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

2011 Genealogy Goals

 Without goals, and plans to reach them, you are like a ship that has set sail with no destination.
Fitzhugh Dodson

I promised myself that I would make goals this year.  I have worked toward goals, but this last year the only one I really had was to make the Sentimental Sunday Post.  I think I only missed one Sunday.
 Below are my 2011 goals, I made a collage that pretty much encompasses the areas I do well with, my Hero posts, putting together a family tree, land records, and searches from both ancestors down the tree to from down the tree to ancestors.  I need to stretch and grow.  I am not a professional so there is much to glean to be a better researcher.

This year in the area of  
Personal Growth Goals:
Financially I can not afford to purchase classes.
1.  Take and finish three free online classes through
      a. U S Research
      b. Research Principles and Tools
      c.  England Beginning Research
2.  Continue and stress improvement with each PROGEN discussion session.
      a. Practice good sourcing methods as learned in PROGEN and
Elizabeth Mills book  Evidence! Citation & Analysis for the Family Historian
3.   Research and Decide to if I want be Professional with Certification
4.   Attend one Genealogical Conference
5.   Join at least one Genealogical Society

Family Tree Goals
1.   Take two trees across the pond.
2.   Find and prove William Henry Langley's father.
3.   Collaborate better with other researchers.
4.  Submit two names to DAR and one name for First Texans.

Individual Worth Goals (Doing Something for Others)
1.  Index minimum of 400 names a month
2.  Arbitrate minimum of 400 names a month
3.  Help minimum of one person a month grow their family tree.
4.  Begin compiling Hero stories chronologically for family to publish.

The vision is to actually work on these goals, not just wish for them to happen.  I do have challenges ahead.  A new grandchild will be born, must stop and go to California to help in this area.   A granddaughter will be performing as Kate in Taming of the Shrew will HAVE to go to Idaho to see this. The first month will be spent with my sister-in-law until she gets back on her feet. 
Now, they could be distractions or hmmm.... I could incorporate them in my grand scheme of family stories. 

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Sentimental Sunday The Hero and Our First New Years Eve

The first year we were married, I was in college and the Hero worked.   At the end of my fall semester, my mom and dad came and took me to visit with them.   The plan was for the Hero to come up to Oklahoma for New Years, then we would come back home to Texas. 
He and I were filled with excitement and anticipation the morning of New Year's Eve.  It was the first time we had been separated since we were married.  We talked at noon and he said they were closing, and he would leave as soon as he picked up his clothes at home.  It was in the days before cell phones.  I figured out how long it would take him.  It was in the days before the Interstate highways were built.  The roads were two lanes, and fraught with small towns and stop lights. [Thought since it was about archaic times, I would use an archaic term. ; ) ]   I expected him about 11 pm, but at 6:30pm he called and said he was sick.  He had nearly passed out on the road and was startled into alertness by a truck honking at him as he veered across the white line.  The best choice was for him was to check into a motel and sleep until morning.  We were so disappointed, and I was worried. 
My father took pity on us. He packed me in the car to go and get the Hero.  At 8:30 pm we picked the puny looking Hero up and started home.  Since the Hero was not holding things down on his stomach, (my nice way of putting it.) my father decided it would be best if I drove his car and he drove the Hero in the Hero's car.  With a few stops on the way, we found ourselves winding through the Arbuckle Mountains at 11:50 pm.  My father signaled to pull over at a rest stop.  We waited until Midnight. I got to give the Hero a kiss for our First New Year.  An embrace was exchanged with the kiss and then we proceeded to my father's home.  It was so worth the drive.  I was grateful to my father for his thoughtfulness and it was a memory worth keeping.
This next month I will be helping the Hero's sister.  She has sustained an injury to her foot and will not be able to take care of herself for a while.  I am sorry she is hurt, but...(wiggling eyebrows) I am excited about spending time hearing early Hero stories. ; )  

Friday, December 24, 2010

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve is a time of family gathering around.  I have a confession to make.  I many times was cloistered in a room with a sewing machine finishing my gifts.  I have been know to be up until 4 am.  Yes, the Hero was rolling his eyes.  A fellow blogger said about shoppers who were agitated in long lines, 'Dec 25 comes the same time every year.'  LOL, yep, my planning skills were just not the best in the world.
I took a poll among some of my children, and they told me that our Christmas Eve was a series of attempts at different traditions.  We read the Nativity story from St. Luke in the Bible. We made cookies and milk for Santa.  As they grew older, the older children got to play Santa for the younger ones.   They liked that as it gave them distinction. 
My personal most memorable Christmas Eve was in my third year of school.  My Uncle Ed and his family came to have Christmas with my family since my grandmother was living with us. 
As it began to be late, the adults were playing cards and drinking eggnog.  My cousin Dale and I were playing with some toys (yes, that means, I don't remember what we were doing) .  Uncle Ed and my older cousin Darryl, who was home for the holidays from the service, began to fuss at my younger cousin and I to go to bed or Santa wouldn't be able to come.  We went off to our rooms to get ready for bed.  All of a sudden,  we heard bells and the slamming of the front door.  Of course, that meant the two of us had to come out to see what was going on.  To our surprise there was a huge stuffed panda bear and a set of cowboy guns sitting in front of the tree.  The panda was mine the guns were Dale's.  They told us that Santa had been in a hurry because we had stayed up so late, so he dropped them off at the front door on his way to the next town.  Yes, we believed him and were delighted with the presents.  The next day my cousin and I played Cowboys and Indians.  Wow. Innocent times in a different world.
(Many years later Darryl confessed to being Santa that year.)

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories Deceased Relatives/Sweetheart Memories

I was babysitting the toddlers yesterday so I did not get my post done...It is okay, because the yesterday's and today's topics go hand in hand for me.  Two years ago at approximately 9 am, the time is fuzzy for me, the Hero passed from this life into peace.  For some reason this year has been harder than the previous years. 
As for what we do, one of my children, last year it was my youngest son, and I go to the grave site and take flowers.  I have planted rosemary and thyme which have done very well.  It is an older cemetery without all the restrictions.  Believe it or not I still have not been able to decide on a tombstone. 
The holiday is lonely without his voice, so I hope you have not minded me sharing his stories.  It helps to get them written while they are still vivid. I can tell you with out hesitation, he is my hero, and love of my life.  I miss him.
Collage from when we met until when we parted.    
My favorite much used item that the Hero gave me for our first Christmas was my first sewing machine.  Little did he know that it would affect his life as much as it did, nor how many hours of  joy it would give me.  I have blogged about the sewing machine click here to read about it if you would like. I stitched this poem for my daughter when she was eight.
When I'm a grown up woman
With hair up on my head,
I'll sit and sew till very late
And never go to bed.
She believed it because, mom was always sewing late at night after I got home from work.  I love sewing, he could not have gotten me a better present. 

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories Christmas Music

The Hero's favorite song was 'O' Holy Night'.  We always sang Christmas carols as we would drive.  The whole family would join in. Each one would start off singing a carol and the others would join in.  It was understood that this carol was his.  I can see his face as he started singing it, so serious and reverent.
I hope you can tell that Christmas music was a basic part of our celebration of the Christmas holiday season.  It filled our hearts with joy. 

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories Religious Services

My mother is a member of the Methodist Church.  They have a tradition of Christmas Eve Communion services.  Even now when I take her to Christmas Eve Services, it is the highlight of her year  At 82 and suffering with mild dementia, her whole being lights up. She remembers her hymns and the purpose of Christmas. 
They have Christmas pageants, choral presentations of different musical depictions of  the birth of Christ.  I love celebrating the birth of Christ.
How could you celebrate Christmas and not attend religious services.
First Methodist Church Edmond, My mom

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories Christmas Shopping

I have said that our Christmas's were always very lean.  The family knew that presents under the tree would not be Racer Bikes, Madame Alexander Dolls, or Big TV's.  We would usually wait until the last minute ie two days before Christmas and look for good sales or go to a thrift store.  The understanding of this is shown in Lil' Miss Sunshine's  letter to Santa done when she was in the first grade.
about 1980

Sentimental Sunday The Hero Loved a Gag at Christmas

When the Hero and I first married, my dad and he got into a contest to see who could out best the other in a gag gift.
The contest began with my dad painting a picture and framing it with a toilet seat.  I forget the exact phrasing of the "poem" on the outside of the box, but it was something to do with the difference between youngsters of today sitting with ease as opposed to old timers who knew hard times.  Wish I had kept the tag.  We did keep the picture and it graced our bathroom wall for a decade until it was destroyed in storage.
The next year, the Hero was ready... he came home one day with gray and brown color pigments from his stucco lab, a stack of newspapers, and a 3 ft by 3 ft box.  I watched as he carefully spread the papers in the bottom of the box, sprinkled the pigments on the layer, then repeated this to the middle of the box.  He then, put some paper, and in the middle of that a scented bar of soap.  Going back to repeating the process of paper and pigment layers to the top.  He carefully wrapped the box, put a bow on it, and proudly sat it behind the tree grinning.  I was wondering... hmmm how is this going to work?
Christmas morning came and the Hero couldn't stand it.  First thing that Santa brought out was a 3x3ft box for my mom and dad.  I sat back holding TexasBlu and watched hoping this was going to be okay.  My dad opened the box, and pulled back a some paper, oops his hands were turning brown, my mom had been pulling back paper too (stipulation on the card...they both had to open it.)  She looked at the Hero with a question in her eyes; he smiled and said there is a gift in the package.  They trudged through the mess to find the bar of soap.  My parents hooted.  He had created a need for a gift of a bar of soap.  After cleaning up, everyone was in a merry mood. 
The gags went on back and forth for years, but everyone agreed that the bar of soap was the most creative that had been done.  Yeah, he was one to like a good gag.
1972 First Gag gift.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories Christmas Plays

I hope you enjoy these it is my gift to my daughter's ward.
Earlier today, I posted about my experience in a Christmas play.  The preparations and practices were very extensive and required everything being JUST right.  I have to say it was nice, BUT I love the church manager scenes where you never know what your characters are going to do.  There are many stories around the loving acts of children who get caught up in the story, then you have the imaginative ones that are here today on my blog from my daughter's church party's manger scene.  There is one not on the scrapbook page that had to be shared alone. If you click again to enlarge the scrapbook page, after clicking on it, you can so see their expressions better.  Our shepherd was quite creative with the shepherd's hook and the others faces are priceless.  I was trying so hard to not giggle too loudly.
Now is he aiming for the star or basketball net?

You just have to love them!

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories Christmas at School

I have been busy with learning some new features coming out in FamilySearch Indexing.  It is exciting, but has caused me to miss some blogging I wanted to do.  Today's prompt is:  Christmas at School
What did you or your ancestors do to celebrate Christmas at school? Were you ever in a Christmas Pageant?
My ancestors did not have any specific "school" celebrations at Christmas that I have ever heard of.  It wasn't until I began school in Edmond Oklahoma at Central State College's elementary that I personally experienced a school Christmas activity.
Since the school was at a college and all the faculty were either students or professors, their Christmas Play was a huge production.  I have a program of the last play I was in during the 6th grade. I was privileged to be one of the five angels in the Manger scene.  What fun and we were all so excited. Some how my over picture taking mother did not get a picture of this.  So you will have to do with the program.

When the Hero and I would talk about Christmas plays and our children were in the Church party Manger scenes, he would always break out in song about "I am the Angel in the Christmas Play". I should have entered this in FootenoteMaven's Blog Caroling.
[My daughter has pictures of this years funny nativity scene at her church party.  I was almost falling off my seat laughing at the antics of the sheperds and angels.  As soon as she as a computer again she is going to send me and I will add. ]

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Sentimental Sunday, The Hero was St Nicholas

The Hero loved Christmas, and he loved little children.  One of my favorite stories around the Hero is the fun he had as he grew older and his hair turned silvery white.  He always wanted to be Santa at a Christmas party, but they always chose an older man. 
He would laugh and say I was named after St Nicholas, so I should be able to play him at the party,alas, that was not to be his roll.  Instead, his role was much more fun and out in the community.
The Hero let his beard grow out and wore red clothes during the December months, especially after one encounter he had. 
  We were at Fazoli's restaurant having lunch. The Hero had on his red shirt and red parka (did I mention he was extremely cold natured...50 degrees and out came the  He had gone up to the salad condiment area and a little girl about 5 years old walked up to him and started to explain what the condiments were and how to use them.  He was amused and smiled while she talked, then she pointed at her family's table and explained to him, that was her little brother and he was 1.  She went on to tell him that she had been really good. The light went on.  He realized that she thought he was Santa from the North Pole.  He told her thank you for the information and explained she needed to go back to her mommy. 
He then came and sat down with a big smile telling me all about what had transpired.  He was delighted.  As the mother and children got up to leave, the little girl looked over at our table and waved.  He couldn't help himself.  He winked.  She smiled so big and skipped out the door.  She had a story to tell her mom.
To prove the theory that the Hero looked like Santa, I pulled the Hero's picture up to show our grandson who had spent 2 years with his grandpa and knew him well. The picture did throw him...after looking and considering, he that Santa?  There you have it. What do you think?
The Hero was St Nicholas personified.  I won't tell you at this time all the wonderful acts of kindness he performed through the years suffice it to say, he loved others.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Blog Caroling: 'I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day'

I am joining FootnoteMaven's Blogging Carol. Click on the blog name to join.

Through my married life years, Christmas was many times filled with challenges.  I even lost the Hero on the 23 of December.  I identified with this carol even if it was written during the Civil War.  The dispair, the pain, then the uplifting close of the carol that leaves you with hope and joy from the words spoken at Christ's birth.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories Christmas Pasts

A time of wonderful Christmas Memories for the family is when we would go to Oklahoma and pick up my Aunt Lynn.  She is our colorful character.
One year, I drove to Oklahoma to pick her up and bring her back down to Texas for the holidays.  As I arrived, it was cold and foggy, and 10 pm at night.  We all quickly bundled up and grabbed a few hours of sleep before starting back at 5 am.  A winter storm was coming and we had a small window for safe travel.
When we walked out to get into the car, the snow had started. I have often wished I had had a camera to have captured the beautiful sight the trees made. Of course, Aunt Lynn would have chastised me and pushed me to the car.  It was so quiet and peaceful, I hated to start the car.  But start the car we did, and rushed back home to Houston just ahead of the worst of the storm. 
The girls had found a pig pillow form and I made the pillow for her to take home with her.  When she went to the nursing home, that was one the the things she took with her.  That year the oldest son was still home and it was a fun time.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories Holiday Parties

When I was growing up, my parents did not go to parties. They did go to family gatherings, but that was mostly just hunting for the men, dinner afterwards and later football games. Definitely not party material.
The Hero's family gatherings were much more like a party, special china, sometimes they played games.
Life was good miss those gathering. My mother-in-law is in Assisted Living and the children are scattered all over.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories Santa

I am so going to have to visit as many blogs as I can on this one.  I had St Nicholas living with me. ; )  The Hero's middle name was Nicholas because he was Catholic and that was his saint.  This Sunday I will share the St Nicholas Hero story with you, but suffice it to say, I believe in Santa Claus.  Here is our daughter wearing Santa's shoes.
Em wearing Santa's shoes. ; )

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories Outdoor Decorations

The areas we went to in Houston
Oh my, at first I thought, what can I blog on this memory.  We rarely did more than Christmas Tree in the window and lights on the front eaves.  However, as I looked at the area we lived in and mulled it over in my mind the garden gate (red this time, seasonal you know) opened and the memories came flooding in.  The Hero loved to go to the subdivisions to see the Christmas lights.  When we lived in the Heights area area, Texasblu and Little Miss Sunshine were privileged to see the huge Victorian houses all decorated up and oh so pretty.  Mostly it was just oodles of  lights, nothing like the elaborate music and light entertainment of today.
We moved to the country and would drive back down to the "1960 Area of Prestonwood" and Sheppard/Ella area"  By that time there were elaborate lighting schemes and wooden figures, which made us go ooh, and ah.
A scary, funny event occurred on a Christmas Light Trek when Texasblu and Redbeard only had two children.  All ten of us piled into the blue and white van  and headed for Houston.  After viewing a couple of subdivisions, we stopped at a convenience store for a rest stop.  There was confusion with that many youngsters getting in and out.  Finally, we started up advanced the length of the parking lot with everyone giggling and chattering.  From the back of the van there was yelling and screaming. The Hero came to an abrupt stop.  Sarah and Sean were yelling that  Em had been left behind and had run grabbing on to the van ladder and was banging on the back window for us to stop.  We were all grateful it was found out sooner than later.  Has anyone else been left behind or been separated when out in a group?  One person told me they had 8 children and someone was always being left behind.  : O
Christmas is full of new and old memories. I love it.

Sentimental Sunday The Hero and Cutting a Christmas Tree

The First Christmas Tree the Hero and I had was a Texas Pine Tree.  The story I tell you is not logical, but true.  I was new to Texas, the Hero was trying to be kind (we were dating).  I really wanted a cedar tree like my dad always cut in Oklahoma for Christmas.  Sigh. Cedars are rarely found in Coastal Texas unless they are in someones yard.  The Hero was not daunted, nor was Texas to be out done by Oklahoma. ; ) 
He took me for a drive to where he KNEW there was some small pine trees we could use.  Well, there weren't any small trees on his dad's property,  SO he spotted a medium tree near the street.  Yep, he climbed the tree, and chopped the tree down with his machete uh maybe bayonet from his rifle.  Whatever, it was not a saw.  I stood on the street watching and wondering if we were going to be arrested.  Luckily, it was a isolated road back in what is now known as Oak Ridge Forest subdivision. It took him quite a few minutes to cut the top (yes, I said top) off of the tree.  When he got down to the ground, he stood it up and it was about 5 ft tall, just perfect for my apartment.  He opened the trunk, it was not big enough.  He pushed the backseat forward and down (it was the old 1953 Chevy I wrote about before.) He tied the trunk down to hold it in place and we drove 45 miles back to my apartment to set it up.  (Great big grin on my face right now)  As we took it inside, the size of the tree, which had seemed reasonable earlier, was overwhelmingly large. In height it was okay, but in width...a wee bit big; as in, if it wasn't trimmed, you could not see the couch.  After some adjustment, it turned out fine. 
For years we would look back at that trip and giggle at the thought of the Hero chopping, maybe hacking,  the tree top of a pine tree.  Now grandchildren, you see your granddadE was an awesome man who went to lengths to make me happy. 

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories Christmas Cards

I loved Christmas Cards and sent large numbers out until the postage went out of sight. I still send a few to my close family members to keep in touch. Some of them send letters about the past year and some send a card with their name in it to say who they were.


I was lucky enough to have saved the Christmas Letter and Card from my dad's sisters the first Christmas that the Hero and I were married. Now that that all of my dad's sisters and brothers are now gone, it is nice to get out their letters occasionally to remember them.  Loved them greatly.

Dora Langley Grote 

Lynn Langley Sneed

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories Christmas Tree Ornaments

This is a sad post for me.  When Texasblu was little I made salt dough figures for ornaments. One year I did a collection of Wizard of Oz and various other characters that she loved.  When we moved to the country, they were in storage.  I nearly cried the following Christmas when I pulled out the box and found a mouse had gnawed in and destroyed most of the figures.  We always enjoyed making Salt Dough Figures. It was a regular craft for the holidays when the children were little. Here is a recipe if you want to try making some with your family Click here to go to the site.  

Click on the picture to view it larger
Later my aunt crocheted some ornaments for each of the children and I bought a porcelain  "Holly Baby" Angel for each of the children. I had two accidents one of which was irreversible and to purchase a second one. 


As we were blessed with grandchildren, I couldn't find Holly Baby Angel ornaments but was blessed to find a pattern for ornaments and made one for each of my first four grandchildren.
They have all been given to my family except for the original 6 porcelain figures which are on the mantel. 

I have not put up a tree since the Hero died.  My children put up my mothers prelighted, decorated tree to cheer up the house. 

This year maybe I will help and add some ornaments.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories Traditional Dishes

Lillian, Texasblu and two sisters
The topic of Christmas and traditional dishes brings back the memories of the days when we did a great deal of baking and Christmas parties.  Today, my Christmas time is much quieter with all the children out of the home and I go to their houses for the holidays.

The particular dish that comes to mind is a cookie that I will quote Texasblu's note in the Ellsworth Domestic Goddess Cookbook she made for the family.  "I personally have wonderful memories tied up in foods that my mother and grandmothers have made for me during the years.....Then there was Great Grandmother's rum balls every Christmas that I used to sneak when mom wasn't looking."
So the memorable dish is "Rum Balls".  They were the craze in the 1960's.  Lillian Sackley Ellsworth would save from the newspaper, but at the same time The Joy of Cooking Cookbook came out and had the recipe in it. If you click on the title of the book it will take you to the recipe and instructions online. 
Lillian Sackley Sherman Recipe

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories Christmas Tree

We always had a cut tree.  When I got married you can see here that we continued to go out and cut a live tree.  Will share a Hero story or two along the way about him and Christmas. ; )