Sunday, December 22, 2019

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year... Memories and Present History Report.

First, I want to Thank anyone who has dropped by to read my posts. It does make it feel like it was worth taking the time to research and to share my findings as well as my stories.
I am not a Christmas card person; I have never been one to send them. I have cousins, my aunts, my in-laws, and my mom who were great at sending cards. They would always include a little of their family history as a letter tucked inside or feelings of love written on their card. Those I kept and put in their history. This will be my Christmas letter (inspired by Carol over at Reflections from the Fence to do so).
Christmas has become a bit sad for me as the older generation has passed. No one to share their memories. My sweetheart went home the morning before Christmas Eve. It does make for bittersweet memories. My heart goes out to those experiencing the feeling of mixed feelings of gratitude for those they have lost and sadness of not having them with them.
A bit of my history with Christmas Cards, it was my mom’s thing. Even in the world of her dementia, she found joy in Christmas. Her eyes would light up as the carolers would sing the Christmas songs. It was a ritual that I would bring a box of cards so she could still sign her name and a small thought, sometimes just “I love you”. She really remembered who she was sending it to. I loved that moment of respite from her usual feelings of anger. 
Mary Langley 2017
Now, for a bit of my year… My family of 6 children and 31 grandchildren (before my brother-in-law says 31! I will insert, I have gotten to know my daughter’s two stepchildren and love them too) keep my busy. Aine went to Rome with her husband in March to see the new Church of Jesus Christ’s Rome Temple. I watched her 6 children still at home. I should say 5, the older two work. The youngest is a nonverbal autistic. I was apprehensive at first because of the miles apart and only seeing him maybe once a year the relationship would be considered thin at best. I didn’t have to worry, the older boys assisted in watching him and sometimes interpreting for him. The best part was going to his therapy sessions and learning what they have been doing for him. He has a device that he can choose feelings or words to communicate. He was just starting, but now he is getting better at using it to express himself. That is exciting. They are getting along fine. I was glad to have been able to spend some fun time with Savannah. In August she left on her mission to Denver and is loving it.

#LighttheWorld #givingmachine

Just before I was to come back home, Emily developed problems with her 7th pregnancy and ended up being life flighted to Salt Lake City for emergency care. Her sweet husband and 6 children were all sick, recovering from the flu. I was glad I had extended my stay with Aine, and that her husband could delay my flight back for a month. The trip down to stay with Emily was not uneventful. My daughter’s windshield wiper went flying off when she turned it on for the snow, to protect the windshield we had to scavenger in the car to find something to go over the loose metal end. We found a stray sock one of the boys had left in the car to fasten over it. We had to travel a good distance to get to a town to get a new wiper blade. My daughter Christina flew up to assist with the sick children and spend time with Emily when she got home. Emily scared us all. All turned out well, I came back home when she was strong enough and she had a cute baby boy about a month later. Scary spring. Tory got glasses AND braces... big deal for her. 

Christina has kept my year hoping. She has the 4 younger children at home and the 4 older ones are making it on their own. Amadeus will leave this coming January for Rexburg, Idaho to go to BYU Idaho. Willie started school this year, and Jamie has started therapy to help with his emotions and coping. I am not expressing that well and it is a story for her to tell. I will say the trip the three of us took up to see the new baby and go by and see my granddaughter leaving on a mission was the hardest I have ever taken. Lexi was baptized. It was a mixed emotion event, excitement that she was being baptized. Sadness because her Grandfather Whitworth just passed away. The funeral was before the baptism.

Edward is doing well. His oldest daughter left in September to go on her mission to Cebu. Marian took her on a trip to New York just after she graduated for her graduation present. My cousin has fallen in love with his son and told him, they would steal him in a minute. I am glad my children have my family to love on them too. The girls are busy performing, playing instruments, and sports.
Cebu, Philippines 

Sarah has had a rough year, that looks like it started off slow and is finishing great. During her husband’s lay off they tried doing Uber Eats. It was not what they had been led to believe it would be. He now has a nice job that enables them to be home much more. Her oldest boy is now 14. He and the baby who is 3 are fast buddies. 
Sean is with a new company and is enjoying working as a foreman on new plumbing construction in Austin, Texas. Downtown Austin is not a favorite of most people to work in and not for him either. He does love the work especially when they do work in historical buildings. He has even worked in the capitol fixing stuff. This fall I went up and he treated me to a delicious dinner at a restaurant that had outside tables with heaters. Fun.

I am president of the Montgomery County Genealogical Society in Montgomery County, Texas for another year. It has been challenging because of finding a place to meet that was consistent. We have, with the help of a stalwart member, fixed up the office that is ours to accommodate holding our meetings there so it will stay the same place. I have been working on a project in my FamilySearch mission to document preserving stuff. It was supposed to be my mom’s and aunt’s family stuff I was given, however, it turned out I was entrusted with a stranger’s stuff to preserve that her family did not want. I had to digitize and categorize pictures, papers and charts. (okay, I just about cried when I found the big box of pictures, especially that she took to time to identify and keep them in family categories. I am in awe of her professional work. Just so sad it was in a trunk in a garage that no one knew of.) I am writing about it and adding what I can to FamilySearch and uploading pictures. I will entrust it to the Society I am president of when I get finished.
With that, I will say Merry Christmas and wishing great blessing for all,

Friday, December 13, 2019

Mattie Roberts Whitson Was an Awesome Grandmother

I was blessed that my grandmothers were still living when I was growing up and both had quit house-keeping and would come to visit for extended lengths of time. My mom was a teacher, so she especially would love when Grandma Whitson came to stay… and I have to say, some of my best memories of Grandma was helping her in the kitchen.
Matilda Roberts Whitson in New Mexico 

Fran at 15

One precious memory was making a boiled spice raisin cake from scratch with her. She let me help with every step. First, we boiled the spices (wow the kitchen smelled fabulous), then we added raisins to “plump them up” (her words).  While the spices were boiling, we mixed the dry ingredients together.
We did let the boiled mixture cool, and knowing Grandma, I am sure there was something we did in the meantime. She was always busy.  

[While we are waiting on the spices to cool, I will digress and tell another funny memory I have of her. She was, in my father’s words, obsessed with washing clothes. I think she was just obsessed with automatic washers.  😉 Back to the story, she would twist the knob too many times (may have been because she had coke bottle bottom glasses) and my dad would end up having to fix the washer, so he was say…’Mom don’t do any washing.’ Before the day was through, she had done a couple of loads and hung them out on the line. Probably one of the sources of my stubbornness.]

Back to our recipe. After the spices cooled, we added it to our dry mixture, then mixed well. We then poured the mixture in a greased and floured 9 X 13 baking pan and set our timer for 35 minutes. When the timer went off, she let me take the cake out. I was devastated. The cake looked like a ski slope. She just laughed and said, “Sweetie the best tasting cakes are failed ones.” She was right it still tasted great. Never figured out what caused the cake to do that but learned from her nothing was a failure if you found a bright side and learned from the experience.

Years later I wanted to make the recipe for my kids only to discover that Grandma never wrote her recipes down. We lost the best tasting roll recipe because of that too.  I searched cookbooks thinking maybe I could find a recipe that someone else had done that was the same.  Unable to find one, I used my memory and basic cake making skills to recreate her cake.  It was as close as I could get, but the real reason I sought the cake was centered around the memory of being in the warm kitchen after school with my grandmother and just having fun with something great tasting to share with my parents. Ah, days gone by. 

Now the kids have another Matilda Roberts Whitson story. (I have read that the boiled spice cake was invented in the depression when eggs and milk were a premium. 
This was NOT how our turned out.

Boiled Spice Raisin Cake
Wet mix:
1 cup water
1 cup molasses
2 cups brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 cups raisins
1 cup butter or margarine
1 tsp pure Vanilla
Dry mix:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a medium saucepan, mix water, molasses, brown sugar, raisins, butter, and the spices. Bring to a boil and let simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.

In a separate bowl, mix, flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until well mixed.
Pour into a 13x9 inch glass dish or cake pan that you have greased and floured.

Bake for 35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean from the center of the cake.

You can frost or not. Makes a great breakfast cake (high in iron).
(the vanilla is my addition... I use vanilla. 😀) franE

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Sentimental Sunday Find Nancy Phillips Hankins Birth

Nancy Phillips Hankins Obituary

Until I found my 2nd great grandmother's obituary, I did not have any clue as to her birth date or her death date or what her character was. Today, I revisited my ancestor's birth dates on FamilySearch while filling out the questions to ask your grandmother sheet for my grandchildren. I identified that two of my daughters were born on my dad's two sisters birth dates. I was curious as to who else might have been born on another relative's birth date.  Several were really close like my 4th daughter was 2 days away from my dad. My oldest son was 4 days away from mine and 3 from my mom's sister. My youngest son was born on my Mom's birthday. One of my children was born in December. I have not found an ancestor born in December, marriages, just no births. I do have to say that there are many we don't have full birth dates on.
Back to my reason for this story... My birthday is the same as Nancy's. I hope my longevity is as great as hers and more, but mostly I hope there will be nice things said about me like they said about her.  A life goals.
This was a Mother's Day endeavor to practice what I preach and write down my personal information for my grandchildren.
How about you. Have you written down things for your family. Maybe you don't have children, but you have memories you can share about family that nieces and nephews, cousins would love to know.
FamilySearch Blog has some ideas to help.

Monday, May 6, 2019

The Hero Had GERD

Talking with his mom, you would never know that the Hero had an obedient bone in his body, but I witnessed him being called, in a manner of fashion, obedient by his doctor.
In his mid fifties the Hero was diagnosed with GERD (GERD, is short for gastroesophageal reflux disease; a condition in which acidic gastric fluid flows backward into the esophagus, resulting in heartburn. It had become painful and caused him sleep loss so we had gone into the doctor to find a solution. The doctor said the best treatment was weight loss and raising the head of our bed to a 45 degree angle. The Hero was cautioned to not use a foam wedge that was available on the market. The effect of that would be to cut him off in the middle and make the GERD worse. We will not talk about the weight loss.
We went home and the Hero began problem solving. There weren't any wooden support extensions back then and our bed was a huge wooden backboard bed that had a memory foam mattress that he had paid 2500 dollars for, so he wasn't giving that up. Hmmm, said he, if I put blocks up under the edges I think I can raise the bed up to the 45 degree angle. He bought concrete cinder blocks, and began his process of measuring the angle and adding smaller bricks to achieve his angle. He did it. Our massive bed was like this...
It was exactly what the doctor had described. The only problem was you would have to occasionally crawl back up to the top at night when you slid down the slope. 😄😄 I love that man, he made life such an adventure. 

When we went back to see the doctor on the follow up visit and the Hero told him what he had done. The doctor was amazed. He said no one had ever actually done that. (I am sitting here laughing at the doctor's face and the Hero's face who was amazed that no one had ever done what the doctor said... duh) We continued to sleep like that for a few years until the Hero was diagnosed with cancer and it became impossible for him to get into the bed like that.
Today there is actually a huge wedge that goes between the mattress and the box springs to elevate the whole top of the mattress and not bend the body at the waist like the "pillow" wedges do.
Well, when you go to bed tonight in your comfortable bed, think of the Hummer who would use her elbows to inch up in bed to the top quietly so as to not wake her Hero up. Life can be funny.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Scenic Pictures - Sentimental Sunday story

I have a rule that when I with family on a trip that the scenic pictures always has a family member(s) in them. That way the scene means something later when viewed by later generations (needs name and place on back still. 😉).
However, there are times that a picture maybe taken of an object or thing without a person and to you it will mean great memories. To others without a story, it may get tossed to the wayside and why did they take that picture. I have two such pictures and will proceed to write the stories behind them for future generations to enjoy.

The first picture involves my dad and my Hero, Ned. 
When we first moved to the "farm" (6.7 acres) we had a small barn, chicken pens, and a pig pen, and rabbit hutches. We were as my father-in-law put it, gentlemen farmers; meaning the Hero worked in Houston then he and my dad built stuff on the weekends. After clearing much of the brush and small trees in the back, my dad was worried of losing trees.  As he was sitting next to the barn watching his chickens, he as he liked to do, he noticed a small pine seedling sprouting in the barnyard
Not the actual seedling, but exactly like it.
He decided it would be a fine addition there to give shade to his critters. Picking up a stick he fashioned a stake and stuck it in the ground to protect it from foot damage so we would know it was there. The Hero thought that was a great idea too. So as the pine grew, so did the stake, thus everyone would know it was a choice tree. 
40 years later both of my men are gone, but I imagine occasionally they might look down and say that is a fine tree.  It turned out it is a Loblolly Pine and is beautiful. Every time I pull in at home and park, I face it.  I remember the years of protecting it and the care the two men did to make sure it survived to be the tree it is now. 
Actual tree 2019, 40 years later.
The other landscape picture is of a road going to our home. We used to call it the tunnel. Everyone knew that when we arrive at the “tunnel” that home was just a short way down the road. We loved the oaks and pines that covered the road and that you could see light at the end of the tunnel.
As the children would say..."Almost home"...
There were many stories about that area of the road. The the road was an iron ore road that had to be graded by a road grader. 
For my grands: a 1960s grader (like the one on our road) 
The grader would not smooth the road out after his first pass and it would leave the surface like a washboard. 
For my grands: a washboard women used to wash their clothes...remind me to tell you a story about that.
You would drive down it and feel like your teeth were chattering. The worse time was when I was expecting my 4th child and every time we drove over it I would exclaim “slow down!” The Hero would smile or even (added injury) giggle and say won’t help. My body parts did not agree, but it was what it was…miserable. Everyone was excited when they finally decided to blacktop the road (wish I had written the date down).
The tunnel is gone now due to development. New owners decided they needed a clear view of the road, but the random picture I took one day to remind my children of home, still survives. I am so glad I took it. When they see it, they still think home. That is why there is a picture of a tree tunnel in my picture box.

Write the stories. Grandchildren will love them and they can pass them down to theirs.