Thursday, June 25, 2009

Recharging Our Batteries

Pastor Dad and I are away from home for a working vacation. Our mental faculties have been stressed to the max and our emotional state lately could best be described as "fluctuating." In my moments of levity I tend to blame much of this on my hormones which are experiencing their second round of pre-adolescent-like qualities. I'm not sure what Pastor Dad blames for his similar state. Probably the same thing. No, not his hormones, but having to live with me while I deal with mine. Pray for the man. Really.

How bad is it? Well, for example, we showed up a week early for my family reunion last Saturday because I wrote the event on the wrong date. Since the reunion takes place in the city where I live (I'm one of the locals) it wasn't too bad of a mistake. However, the reunion will be taking place this weekend without me. Sorry, family! I'll miss being with you.

Pastor Dad is scheduled to preach at a conference this weekend. As Providence would have it (thank you, Lord!) we were able to get away a day early. We're now resting, reading, and writing: recharging our batteries; having our creative juices restored; listening to the silence (we turned off the TV just so we would not have to listen to the talking heads announcing again the death of Michael Jackson); marveling in the most magnificent light-and-sound display we've ever witnessed in a thunder storm (which we would've enjoyed so much more if we hadn't been driving through it at the time!).

But we're here in Kentucky safely ensconced in a room that will be our home-away-from-home for awhile. I think I'll get back to that resting and reading part again.

Friday, June 19, 2009

New Family Portrait

I think I mentioned that our church is in the process of putting together a new member directory. I thought I'd submit this picture so that those who go to our church will be able to see one of the pictures we liked (and bought) so that they'll totally ignore the one that will appear in the directory, which is - in my estimation - pretty bad. Please saturate your mind with this image and ignore anything that will appear in print.

Sales personnel are smart. They know to change the background, do things to make the child smile, and to make sure clothing items and/or jewelry is properly arranged for the shots they will try to sell you. In our case, it worked.

The freebie photo that will appear in the directory looks nothing like this one. The people in it are zombies impersonating us. At least that's what I've been telling myself for the last couple of weeks.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Why Do They Scare New Moms Like This?

Our little Fen is a week old today. My, how time flies when someone is this side of pregnancy, and the pregnancy wasn't even mine. Perish the thought!

The hospital where my grandson was born provides a visit from an in-home nurse a few days after mom and baby go home. I think this is because they practically throw them out the door as soon after birth as they can these days. And I'm not complaining. There were a few times in my own personal experience when I would've gladly gone home if they had discharged me.

I wasn't present for the nurse's Saturday visit but the Princess quickly let me know how things went. Most of the visit was pleasant, and the nurse offered a few helpful suggestions. But there was one area where the nurse was anything but helpful. She wasn't happy with the baby's weight and even went so far as to suggest that the Princess call the doctor to see if she could get him in for an appointment earlier than the one scheduled for Tuesday. Formula was suggested. The poor mommy was terrified that her baby wasn't thriving!

Since we'd rarely left them alone some of us were intimately acquainted with the feeding arrangements between the Princess and her son. Suffice it to say that all was going well. The "clear liquid diet" that the Lord designed for the first few days of a newborn's life was accepted willingly by the little one. And then when the diet changed to something a bit more substantial I laughed as I witnessed the first surprised and greedy gulps of the young man. Priceless! So here the Princess was a day later, scared that her child was being starved to death. It just didn't seem possible.

And it wasn't. Nothing could have been further from the truth. At his doctor's appointment yesterday they learned that little Fen not only had gained back the weight he'd lost by the time he was discharged from the hospital but had also gained an extra 8 ounces! He's obviously getting enough to eat, thankyouverymuch.

Sounds like the diet that the Lord provided agrees with the Little One pretty well. Leave it to God to think of everything. :)

Monday, June 15, 2009

A Genealogy Tutorial

A few of you have asked me about researching your family history. I routinely field questions from people whose skill level ranges from beginner through to the genealogy buff who just needs a few ideas. This looks like a good day to address this issue since someone has already taken the time to compile their own list today.

First, there is a post today at that lists some of the resources available to you via your home computer. See here to read that article. Some of these sites were new to me and I can't wait to check them out.

Second, I have a few favorite sites of my own to suggest.
  • - Do not let this fee service stop you from availing yourself of the free databases that are offered there. Some public libraries also have access through their websites or at their branch computers. Odd as it may seem, I used the library version just last week while doing some research at the library. I was able to find what I needed without logging on through my own account. I was also able to view information in a few databases that I don't have in my subscription plan.
  • Heritage Quest - This division of ProQuest is also found through many public libraries. I can access this one from home through my public library's website using my library card number. It has all of the US federal census data and Revolutionary War pension files. This is of particular use to those who would desire membership in lineage societies such as The National Society Daughters of the American Revolution and National Society Sons of the American Revolution.
  • - The GRC National Index found there under the Genealogy tab holds a wealth of information. Once a desired volume is found, copies can either be ordered through the DAR search service or through another library. I've found many tidbits that I was then able to view myself at the public library. The trick was in finding the book name through the website.
  • - Once I have a name and place of death, this website has been helpful in finding pictures of my ancestor's graves. Sometimes old gravestones were engraved with pertinent genealogical information that can lead to the discovery of other generations. The database continues to grow as individuals submit pictures.
  • - Again, this is a subscription service that has a wealth of information available to those who are not members. Anyone can search the library database from the home computer. Once a book title of interest is found copies can be ordered directly from NEHGS, or the book itself can be viewed at public libraries that hold the same volume. Don't forget that even some genealogy books can often be ordered through inter library loan.
  • - This is the website of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. In recent months they have added a feature that shows actual documents and not just transcriptions or indices. Under the "Search Records" tab click on "Record Search Pilot" which will lead to the databases that have images. Not all that are listed there have actual images, but many do. I am particularly fond of the ones showing death certificates as these can be costly if ordered through state agencies.
  • - This is a place where volunteers who have transcribed newspaper articles can donate submissions. Newspapers that were published prior to 1923 are within the public domain and transcriptions can be submitted without violating any copyright.
  • If you are blessed enough to live near the state capital in the state where your ancestors resided you may find many valuable books and artifacts at either the state library or the state archive - or both! Lulu and I visited the NC Archives in Raleigh last year where we found an important Bible record that was photocopied for us.
  • Those of you who are blessed to live near the public libraries of Houston, Ft. Wayne, and Cincinnati should avail yourselves of their extensive holdings. I'm sure there are other public libraries that are adding to their holdings due to the continuing popularity of genealogical research.
  • If you are really a newbie you may not be aware of the database of genealogy databases located at Perhaps this should be the first stop on the novice's journey into researching their family history.

Happy hunting!

The Envelope, Please!

It's a day we always await anxiously.

Achievement test results. They arrived in the mail today.

[Drum roll]

We tore open the envelope in anticipation of seeing great things. We weren't disappointed. The board of education will be satisfied once more. Big sigh of relief

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Otherwise Preoccupied

Guess where I've been! There are no prizes because even little Sweet Pea probably knows the answer to that query.

Yes! I've been spending as much time as possible needed with the Princess and her little family. She is doing very well, thanks for asking, and has taken to motherhood like a duck to water. No worries on that account. It's just that we're all doing what we can to "help," which means holding the baby, talking to the Princess, doing light housekeeping, and generally enjoying ourselves as much as possible before the Princess decides to throw us out. I've been there, if for no other reason, than just to let Princess talk. We all know that childbirth engenders a whole new genre of war stories, as any man will testify as he quickly exits the room.

Prince Valiant had to return to work yesterday afternoon, so that's why I was at their home from the early morning until last night. I took a turn keeping the baby quiet between feedings so that his parents could get some rest. It was going to be a long day and night for Fen's daddy. Not only did he have to get things ready for the business's night shift by running errands in the afternoon, but he had to work it as well. Karen arrived for her own night shift which enabled me to come home.

Pastor Dad popped in with lunch yesterday and members of the Sunday School class have been providing their dinners each evening. Everyone is well-fed even if not well-rested.

Pastor Dad also wrote a poem for the Princess and Fen. Maybe you don't need a box of tissues handy in order to read it, but I sure do.

My Baby Girl's a Mommy Now

My baby girl’s a mommy now.
I stand amazed to say it.
I’ll offer God a word of thanks
If He gives me words to pray it.

I once held her in blankets small
And calmed her infant fears.
But now her son lies in her arms
And I’m the one with tears.

What marvel this! What blessing!
I cannot speak the joy.
My baby girl’s a mommy now.
She holds her baby boy

Excuse me, please. I've got to find another box of tissues. This one was emptied a bit faster than normal.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Happy "Birth"day, Little One!

This picture can say it so much better than I can. Yes, June 10th is now the birth date of the newest member of the family, our grandson. Welcome, welcome little one. We can't wait to see what plan the Lord has for your life. May you find it early and follow it always.

Baby arrived at approximately 1:30 this morning. He, his mommy, and his daddy are all doing well. All of his grandparents have survived so far, too. :)

How sweet to hold a newborn baby,
And feel the pride and joy he gives.
But greater still the calm assurance,
This child can face uncertain days because He lives.

(William and Gloria Gaither: "Because He Lives")

To God be the glory!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Happy Birthday (again) and Other Chatter

Yes, we really do have another family birthday today. My father-in-law is 80 years old! Of course, he won't know I sent him this birthday greeting unless someone in the family tells him so. He's off celebrating in the mountains. Sigh

Well, honestly, he wouldn't read it if he was at home either. He doesn't have a computer. But that doesn't mean that we can't wish him a virtual Happy 80th!

In other news, thanks to those of you who have sent me get well wishes either via email or Twitter. I do appreciate them. I'm not sick very often but when certain types of bugs gain a foothold I'm pretty much reduced to lying in bed and doing nothing. Headaches and stomach bugs tend to be the ones that leave me in a non-functioning capacity. When those two gang up on me . . . well, let's just say that the last 48 hours I've pretty much been asleep. I never knew it was possible to sleep so much.

The good news is that I'm awake and functioning now. I've still got the sinus congestion, but since I live with that almost 365 days out of each year and 366 on leap years, I consider myself back to normal.

So, Princess, if you've been doing everything in your power to keep from having the baby until such a time as your mother could come visit at the hospital, I think it is safe to say that I'm good to go. And Papaw probably would consider having his new little great-grandson born on his 80th birthday a grand present indeed. I'm just saying.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Happy Birthday!

Hey, anyone think we're stuck in a rut around here? Birthday wishes have been taking up a lot of space on this blog lately. But that's okay, because we're good at sharing the love. Everyone feel it?

Today is Prince Valiant's birthday. He isn't my child by birth. He's one of those critters who decided to marry into this clan of ours. I'm sure hoping he gets his "big" birthday present today: a brand new son. :)

Happy 21st birthday, Prince Valiant!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Technology at Our Fingertips

Two weeks ago I asked for input about your favorite technological advances and networking platforms. In the meantime I've been talking to people (yes, live and in person) to find out their views and also doing a bit of experimenting with the help of willing family members. Return to "Keeping In Touch" if you need a reminder concerning this subject. I mentioned that I would be giving my opinion in a later post. Well, this is it.

My Space: I've never used it and from what I could tell few do anymore (or will admit that they do). Since I never was part of the My Space scene I cannot comment on why it is not used more by those within my circle.

Facebook: Ah, Facebook. Pastor Dad opened an account purely to help me research this phenomenon. Since I prefer to remain anonymous, someone had to be willing to be recognized. We brokered a deal. I'll continue to do the anonymous blog posts and he'll meet and greet the public with his Facebook account. Those of you who know my true identity probably know his and have either already befriended him or are free to go do so now that I've told you he is there.

This seems to be working out great so far. Why, just this morning, Pastor Dad was exuberantly noting that he is up to 100 friends. I'm glad, too, because frankly, I was beginning to worry that I would need to open an account just to help him reach that milestone. Thank you, thank you, whoever you were that became his 100th friend. And yes, I've noticed that I only have 18 followers here. What can I say? I know that I have more readers than that based purely upon the comments that I receive both on the blog and in person, and by the numbers reported by Sitemeter, but it sounds like sour grapes to say so. :)

Cell phone: Seriously, how did I live without one? It is just that much a part of my life and I'm not even one of those people who uses mine every single day. But the potential is there, and I'm very glad to have it. If I forget to take it with me I almost feel like I've left the house without my purse.

Cell phone usage has grown so inexpensive that it is replacing the home phone for many families. We aren't one of 'em, but that might happen someday, especially if our current landline company keeps coming up with new ways to aggravate us. I realize that cell phones themselves are not that cheap, and at the Bear's current rate of product turnover he'll need to be the CEO of a Fortune 500 company someday just to pay for his appliances. Since we moved him to a model with no bells or whistles he has not been a happy camper but his average rate of attrition has slowed exponentially.

As for me, I'm good with an old Samsung. I've found that it is better than a set of keys for keeping toddlers and preschoolers occupied during quiet ceremonies (if the volume is turned to silent, that is). And the camera on the phone is quite a hit with the younger set, too. Right now Tigger's picture is gracing the display where Sweet Pea's used to be. Equal time and all that jazz. Can't show partiality!

Which then segues nicely into texting. Uh, yeah. How else does one keep in touch with one's son's girlfriend's mother?! I've found that texting is one of the most useful tools I have in my parenting arsenal for keeping my teenager honest and I think I've got a pretty well-behaved son, all things considered. But texting tends to provide another layer of spying confirmation.

That brings up another important point. I think it is imperative for parents to be part of all the social networking platforms that their children use. I'm just joking about the spying part, but really, don't we all need accountability? I know I do. I like the fact that some of our church members, my husband, children, in-laws, and friends read what I write. I've obliterated many a mean-natured post just because I knew that people who love me would be sad if they read it. We're providing the same service for my minor child. It is our job, after all.

Also, since Lulu and Princess grew up with this technology literally at their fingertips it is just another way that we kept in touch after they married. Girls who wouldn't talk to me much before they married now text me almost daily. Nice!

Twitter: I've been tweeting for awhile now but only within the past couple of weeks have I begun to see its benefits. For quite awhile I felt like it was a virtual cocktail party (not that I've ever been to one) where everyone talks but nobody listens. Or perhaps it was my own shyness that prevented me from reaching out to others or using the technology available to me. Either way, I've made helpful connections now.

Since I began using one of the many Twitter-related services available (I use TweetDeck thanks to Karen) I have been able to divide my contacts into groups that are more meaningful to me. For instance, I have a group entitled "Family or Almost" which includes well, family, and those like Kelly who are family without having the genetics that makes the rest of us sneeze every time a cottonwood seed drifts past our noses. (Count your blessings, Kelly.) Anyone who knows my real name goes into that category on my TweetDeck. I consider my friends to be family, too.

I also have a group for "Bargain Hunting" and one for "Genealogy." This enables me to see quickly what's new in each column. Those of you who are either not tweeting or are not following me can see my tweets midway down on my right sidebar here on this blog. I don't think you'll get much benefit from it, though, as this is kind of like overhearing one side of a phone conversation.

One of the things that I like about Twitter is that, like blogging, I can remain anonymous. Just remember, unless you set your profile to private, the whole Twitter world can read what you've written. The same can be said for blogging, too, you know.

Which brings me to blogging. Uh, yeah again. I blog. You're reading this. What more do you need to know?

As for the rest. I don't IM per se even though sometimes we reply to things almost instantaneously because we are logged in to our various accounts quite a bit. We don't miss pagers even if we were thankful to have one back in their day.

I personally do not Facebook. I do connect with others through genealogy bulletin boards (i.e. I don't use Skype anymore as I found it totally annoying. I have been invited to other similar services but nothing more has come of them even though I have agreed to be a part. I'm leaving the burden upon the people who first instigated contact with me.

With the exception of my Twitter tweets showing on my blog I tend not to mix my media. I don't send tweets from my cell phone or from Pastor Dad's Facebook. I don't want a Blackberry so that I'll be tempted to be connected 24/7. I guess I am mixing things up a bit by even blogging about my other avenues of social networking, but since I'm now rapidly approaching the end of the blog post that will stop as well.

I also am not ashamed to learn new things about technology from my children. Are they smarter than I am? Well, duh. Of course they are. I sincerely hope I taught them to be. I sincerely hope we are continually teaching each other new things. I look forward to the day when my grandchildren will need to show me how to use some certain piece of technology. So look out, Polly, Tigger, Sweet Pea, and Fen! Someday Gram will be calling you for help programming whatever replaces our 8-track, er, DVD player.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Comments for My Commentors

Okay, it's just easier to quickly answer everyone at once than to respond to several people in emails, which I've already done in some cases. But this is Wednesday and I do need to go to work today, and there's a possibility that I could end up holding a new grandbaby before too long, so I want to reply to the comments post haste. Nice pun, if I do say so myself.

To Kelly of For the Love of Letters: I empathize completely. And I'm sorry for startling you. I get an extreme case of nerves each time the phone rings. Which means, of course, that the Princess has told me to "chill out" a few times. Enough so, that I'll probably be the last person to know about the birth of the baby.

To Karen of Candid Diversions, who is my oldest daughter, as I'm sure every one of my readers now knows: I'm so sure we should call our newest family member "Fennec" or "Fen" for short in the blog world that I've already discarded the name "Little Beanie Baby" from my profile (see About Me to the left). I changed it once you and I discovered it because I was afraid in my current state of expectant grandparenthood I would forget it.

I was thinking that it would be appropriate for Prince Valiant and Princess to actually name their son "Ike." Very fitting, don't you think? And the name would fit some other family traditions as well - that we won't mention here. :)

To Karin of Yesterday, Today, Forever: Have a safe and wonderful trip! I'm looking forward to hearing from you when you are able to write for us again.

To Vicky of Project 365: I saw that you've got a visit with grandchildren in your immediate future. Hope you and Tim have a safe and wonderful trip as well. I look forward to seeing the resulting pictures. And if you ever get a chance to do a marathon cooking session you'll be shocked at how much money you save on your grocery bill.

To Pastor Dad: Okay, here's the thing you really wanted me to remind everyone about. Father's Day is June 21st. That means only 18 more shopping days. Are you listening Karen, Lulu, Princess, and Bear?

I think that's it for now. Now it's off to school, then work. Don't you love my priorities?

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Getting Ready

I spent all day Saturday cooking. My freezer is now packed with enough meals to feed us throughout the month of June except for each Sunday's dinner. I don't usually make up my mind as to what I am fixing for that day until sometime on Friday. In all my attempts to get things organized I really must allow myself some things that aren't completely under control. Where's the fun in everything being organized? Well, I concede there must be some fun in it or we wouldn't be watching so many "Monk" episodes these days.

Anyway, I've done something like this before and have even borrowed cookbooks at the library on the subject in the past. If you are interested in doing a mega-cooking day, hop on over to Tricia's and Cortney's blog, appropriately named Once A Month Cooking, for their June menu. I didn't use their menu plan, but I'm sure it is excellent. My planning and preparations were underway prior to their announced menu but I have every intention of participating in a future month.

Last night the Princess came over for the evening so that we could stock her freezer, too. She, Lulu, and I prepared enough food to last her little family for a couple of weeks. She doesn't have a separate freezer so that's about all she can handle at a time. Hopefully, these will be the two weeks that the Princess is recovering from childbirth. Hint. Hint.

{We interrupt this blog post to say that as I was typing, the phone rang. Glancing at the caller i.d., I saw that it was the number of the Princess's cellphone. My heart leaped into my throat! "She's probably ready to go to the hospital," I thought. False alarm. I'd forgotten to write on the directions at what temperature to preheat the oven for the dish she's fixing tonight. Sigh.}

As I was saying, my freezer is stocked and so is the Princess's. Now we're just waiting anxiously for the birth of her little guy, whom I think should be named "Ike." If you wonder why just do a Google search on the words "Hurricane 2008 Ohio. " Mmm hmm.

Monday, June 1, 2009

A New Month

I'm always a bit relieved each year when June rolls around because it means I've survived another May. This is no easy task, as I'm sure you've noticed. About this time I'm always looking back in amazement at how slowly the first months of the year passed with all the snow and dreariness and how fast the spring months have flown by with their nice weather and beautiful flowers.

So here it is June 2009 and we're on the verge of summer already. This promises to be a busy month as well. First – and perhaps, foremost – is the expected arrival of our little grandson. The Princess is ready (with a capital R) to give him his freedom so that both of them will be able to stretch out a bit more comfortably. I'll keep you posted.

Second, it is Prince Valiant's birthday month. The way things are going, the Princess and her Prince will be celebrating non-stop from her May 26th birthday through to whichever birthday is the latest – the baby's or the Prince's – which will make their end of May – first of June just like our May. All three members of that household will be celebrating their birthday one right after the other. Well, yeah, that means that we will be affected also. I do my best not to make any difference between my children, whether they are mine by birth, or those who are mine because they are accepted in one of my beloved. (Having in-law children has given me a whole new understanding and appreciation of Ephesians 1:6.)

Third, our church begins VBS next week. Normally, this would stand for Vacation Bible School. I guess it still does for most, but for me, it means the start of a Very Busy Summer. Our goal is to have school completed this week, except for some summer math that the Bear will be doing for high school credit, and I am so ready.

Fourth, my father-in-law will be celebrating his birthday in a few days, too. He was younger than I am now when I first met him. Now there's a thought designed to make both of us feel old!

Oh, yeah, one more thing. Pastor Dad would probably appreciate me reminding all who need to know that there are now only 30 more shopping days until HIS birthday. After all, we can't have things abruptly grinding to a halt when the calendar suddenly says July, now can we?