Week Two: Writing Your Personal History

I enjoyed answering the questions from last week. It was fun to try to remember about when I was a baby. I learned I don’t really remember much! However, here are some highlights of the answers to questions last week:

 

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Me, two months old

 

Where did you get your name from? My mother liked the names Catherine and Cordelia. Cordelia is my great grandmother’s middle name. My mom decided on Karen because it was a shorter form of Catherine. My name in Greek means “purity.” I am glad I wasn’t called Cordelia, even though I know Anne of Green Gables dreamed of being called that.

My mother liked to call me “Kare-Bear” after the popular cartoon on television when I was growing up in the 1980s. She said it was because I was always so sweet. The only people who call me “Kare-Bear” now are my older sister and my mother and two of my best friends growing up.

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I am excited to write more this week. Here are the questions:

5. What clothing did you wear as a baby? What did your parents tell you about your growing out of your shoes and other clothing? Buying new clothes?

6.  Tell about learning to walk, to talk, losing your first tooth, learning to count, say the alphabet, learn nursery rhymes and songs, favorite bedtime stories, times with your mother and father, brothers and sisters, discipline (getting spankings, time out etc), favorite foods, getting into trouble and learning, pets, games, toys, etc.

7. Tell about birthdays and parties, Christmas, Easter, Halloween, Valentine’s Day, costumes and gifts, parades, Santa Claus, Eater Bunny, picnics etc.

8.  Tell about who your friends were at this early age, times with your cousins, etc.

Good luck! I know these questions will keep me busy this week.

Writing My Personal History

A few years ago, I attended a family history class and the focus of the class was writing your own personal history. I received a list of questions to ask yourself each time you sit down to write. It is a good way to prompt memories and stimulate writing. I started writing my own history a few years ago, but of course, I became more enamored with others people’s stories and never finished it. I was stupid enough to delete the document! It is like my journal in fifth grade. I didn’t know what to do when I filled my notebook so I threw it away! I regret not having those experiences recorded by my

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ten-year old self to give to my sons. They could have laughed at me, but also seen that their mother was young once too.

I plan to post questions here each week so you can follow along with me. Hopefully by the end of this year, I will have a good start again on my own personal history and you can too if you decide to follow along.

Here are the questions for this week:

  1. What is your full name? Where did you get your name from? What is the full name of your mother and father? Where and when were you born? Where was the first home you lived in? If you had older brothers and sisters what did they think of a new baby when you came into the family?
  2. Describe yourself as a baby. What was the color of your hair? Was is curly or straight? What was the color of your eyes? Your height? Do you remember anything about your “baby” items? Your crib, your room, a favorite blanket or toy. Tell some of the things you remember your mother and father telling you about yourself as a baby.  Did you share a room? Do you remember when you gave up drinking your bottle? etc.
  3. Where did you fit i your family? Were you the oldest, youngest, middle child? Did you have siblings? How well did you get along? How many brothers and sisters did you have?
  4. What were your childhood diseases, injuries, illnesses, operations, accidents etc?

I am going to have fun with these questions this week.  Talk to you soon!

Bringing Family History to Life

I think it is important when you have kids to do things that can bring your family history to life for them. It can all be so confusing with the names and dates. I remember growing up my mother would start a story and I would not know who she was referring to. I could not see the connections like she could and our conversations went like this.

“Who are you talking about again?”

“Phebe, you know, your grandfather’s sister. She is Matthew and Libby’s grandmother.”

There were too many names and I never heard the story only trying to figure out the names.

I have learned when I teach a story to my boys about one of their ancestors I have to keep it simple. I show a photo if I have one and then tell the story in a minute or two.

If my teenager wants to know more when I have finished then I can give him the name of the ancestor where he can go on to Familysearch.org to look more about his ancestor for himself.

One of the ways I have tried to bring family history to life for my children is to visit places where there is a story in connection with our ancestors. My favorite place to take them is to the Bluff Fort Historic Site and Visitors Center in Bluff, Utah. I have great grandparents who were a part of the San Juan Mission who carved a road out of the Utah desert to Bluff. They were the only pioneer expedition to travel east!

Bluff Fort is a lot of fun because they have interactive displays in each of the replica cabins built around the fort. There are artifacts you can see and learn more about. There is a movie made specifically about the Hole-in-the-Rock Expedition and you can climb into a covered wagon. We got to see our ancestors’ names on the memorial they have in the middle of the fort, the Stevens Family. If you are interested in going to the Bluff Fort yourself it is open all year round and is completely free.  Their website is http://www.hirf.org.

Geeking Out Over LOTR Mini Reunion

Spring Break 1992, I was thirteen years old. I remember “laying-out” to get a tan in my swimming suit in the backyard. However, upon closer examination of my reading material you would not find Seventeen or the latest Sweet Valley High books,  you would find J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Silmarillion” in my hand for ‘light’ reading.  I had devoured The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings Series two times already that year so I needed something different.

I remember being so obsessed with The Lord of the Rings, I wrote my own mini spin-off about Legolas. In this novella, he fell in love with a mortal whose description was strangely similar to mine. My seventh grade English teacher wanted us to practice our penmanship so I had to purchase a new pack of lined paper just so I could turn my novella in, fifty pages and all. And what other thirteen year old girl spent her weekends and summers with her older brother and his friends playing MERP (Middle Earth Role Playing)? Only me, (but hey some of his friends were cute.)

Has it really been fifteen years since the first Lord of the Rings movie came out?  It seems like yesterday, my then new husband and I ran off the theaters after our college finals.

I love this photo Dominic Monaghan shared on Instagram yesterday, of course, I like the actors and think this is fun, but it has been more fun for me to the first time I became acquainted with the characters they played.

My favorite has always been Aragorn. He wandered Middle Earth for ages as Strider, dirty, and a bit angry and yet as each challenge comes in the book, he rises to the occasion, eventually fulfilling his mission as King of Gondor. His character sticks out to me because I just when I think I’ve got things figured out and then a challenge or a trial comes throws me off track, but I can’t let them stop me from becoming the best person I can be.

Yes, I am a Lord of the Rings Geek and I will always be.

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Stranger Dialogue

Have you ever watched people conversing but could not hear what they were saying?

I think it is so much fun to make up dialogue for strangers as if they were characters in one of my books. It is a great way to spend time you have to waiting.

The other day I saw three teenage boys walking on the sidewalk. It had snowed the night before and it was very chilly even though it was mid-afternoon.  One of them stopped and showed the others something. I dreamed up him saying, “Hey look, snow!” As if they had not noticed until that moment.

There are also two teenagers at my son’s junior high who like to show the world they are in love every day after school. They smooch and lay on the grass with each other. When I picked up the kids in our carpool for Christmas Break, we watched them saying good-bye to each other for the two weeks.The kids helped me with dialogue.

“It will be alright,” he said rubbing her back. “I will tell Santa you have been good and he will bring you some cookies.”

“Oh, thank you, but I don’t like cookies,”she said and sniffed.

It is a very fun activity to do when you know the strangers can’t hear you, but probably even more fun if you are daring enough to do it when they can.

I love this clip from Gilmore Girls.

Trapper Keepers and American Girl Dolls

Back in the early nineties, my family moved from our log home to run a bed and breakfast across town.  I am the youngest of six children. I have an older sister, then four brothers. We moved while my third brother was on a two-year proselytizing mission for our church in Bolivia. The only two children left at home were myself and my brother who was two years older.

When we unpacked our belongings into our new rooms, my brother found a Beauty and the Beast Trapper Keeper in a box of his. It was not his and so he put it on my bed thinking it was mine. I saw it and knew it was not mine so I put it on his bed. This went on for days until finally I got upset and said,”Quick putting this thing in my room. It isn’t mine.”

“Well, it certainly isn’t mine!” he said.

We figured out it must have belonged to our brother who was on a mission. My brother put in a box in his closet and I thought it was the end of it until the next day when I got home from high school. My brother sat in the living room, not watching television, reading, or doing anything. He never just sat. I knew he was up to something. He nodded at me when I came in. Then he smiled. It was an eerie, mischievous sort of smile. “Aren’t you going to take your stuff up to your room?” he asked.

“No!” I yelled and ran to my room. “Where is it?” I searched my room for the offending Trapper Keeper. I looked in my pillowcases, in my dresser drawers, in my closet. He followed me and casually leaned against my door watching my erratic behavior. He had an amused look on his face.

“Where did you put it?” I asked ready to tear my hair out.

He laughed and looked at the ceiling.I looked and he had taped the Trapper Keeper to the ceiling above my bed.

“I wanted you to have a good dreams,” he said.

I immediately stood on my bed and tore the offending item from my ceiling.

The next day, I put it in the cupboard under his television where he kept his video games so his friends would see it as they got the games out.

The next day, he taped it to my shower.

The Trapper Keeper would never disappear. The game went on for the rest of the year until my brother graduated and moved away. I put in my closet and laughed when I saw it.

It felt weird to be the only kid at home with my parents that fall. When the spring came around my brother decided to go out and serve a mission for our church as well and was sent to England. The following Christmas, I got the Trapper Keeper out, wrote him a bunch of letters, filled it with candy and mailed it to him. It was the best!

Our family talked to him on Christmas and he had not received my package yet. Then a few weeks later, I got a letter saying he had received my package, but he wasn’t very happy about it. I believe he threw it away in a bin in Manchester, England. trapper-keeper

It is a funny thing to remember. Then similarly, a few years after my husband and I had our first son, we were expecting another baby and we bought some curtains from Pottery Barn Kids.  My husband got on a mailing list somehow and they sent him an American Girl doll catalog. We laughed about it and I would call him at work to tell him it had come in the mail so it would have something to look forward to when he returned home.

As our boys have grown, we still get the American Girl Catalog. My husband started putting it in our oldest’s sons room and then I would help him come up with a place to hide it in my husband’s things. Then our two younger boys have got involved and they hide in each other’s bedrooms. We moved three years ago and made sure that we changed our address so they would continue to come, however, we put the catalog in our oldest’s sons’ name.  We wanted him to feel special. With so much technology these days, who doesn’t like getting special items in the mail?

We continue to get them to this day and find funny places to hide them.  The best hiding spot was when I put it in a part of my son’s backpack he doesn’t use very often and he carried it back and forth to junior high for a week. Good times! It is the little, silly things we do that our kids remember. Just as I always think of my brother whe I see Beauty and the Beast, I know in the future, I will never see an American Girl catalog without thinking of the funny times we had with our boys when they were young.

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Adventures with a Teenager

The other day, my thirteen year old son and I went around to a few local businesses. He is in a musical at his junior high in the spring and is required to help with fundraising. He had a letter from his teacher and had to talk to the managers of the businesses. He was nervous, but he did a good job. We went to a local grocery store and we asked to talk to the manager. While we were waiting for him, we entertained ourselves by looking in a bin of old DVDs.

We decided to play a game. We would pick up a DVD and then say a line from the movie. Well, the first one I picked up was called “Harry Brown” starring Michael Caine. It showed a photo of him on the front with a gun. I have never seen the movie and so I did my best Michael Caine accent (it more resembled Dick Van Dyke from Mary Poppins, but oh well) and made up a line. I said, “I will shoot you and you will die.”

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Our game didn’t last long as the manager approached and we talked to him for a minute. He wasn’t able to help us out with the fundraising because it was not specific enough and so we left. I was proud of my son for thriving in an awkward situation and we laughed about the stupid line I made up on the way. Sometimes it is the silly little things that make your day. I was glad to bond with my teenager if only for a moment. I’ve got five years, (five years!) and he will graduate. I am determined to enjoy my time with him, even if it is for a few minutes at a grocery store.