Friday, January 27, 2012

Changing things up a bit...

In preparation for next month's family history writing challenge, I decided to set my blog up to reflect my writings and hopefully keep me inspired, and in turn...keep me writing!

The photo at the top is of my grandparents, taken the spring after they were married in 1935.  I wrote about them a few years ago here.   They are my inspiration for what I hope to write about next month, namely, my maternal side of the family - The Parrish's.

Now I need your help.  If you're reading...and I KNOW you're out there...please leave a comment on this post and let me know if my page is readable, easy on the eyes (text size, color), etc....  Basically if there is anything that makes you squint or cringe to view my blog page (Other than the actual content, of course!).  I really do value the few readers I have (though I suspect there are a few quiet readers out there), and I want to make sure that you actually want to come back and read what I'm writing.

I'm so looking forward to February and introducing you to more of the family!

C.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

On Cars, Steak, & Hockey....and $$$$

I was speaking with an aquaintance today and somehow (for the life of me, I can't even think now how this topic came up)...somehow the topic came around to the fact that he had just bought a Corvette.

A Corvette.  Really?

Ummm...why?? (Yes, I asked him this)  His response was that he wanted one.  My response was, "you live in Buffalo.  You'll get to drive it a total of maybe 50 days out of the year."  He didn't care.  His excuse was that his father had seven cars....wait a minute...SEVEN??  Yes.  Seven cars, and my friend felt like he could have a third if he wanted it.

From there the conversation turned to how he had gifted a friend a $200 gift certificate to a local restaurant.  No, this was not the local Olive Garden, but a very high-end steak house.  A high-end steak house that my friend frequents at least once every month, and apparently drops that kind of cash for his meal with his wife each time.

Hey, I love a good steak - but really?  $200?  For TWO people?

Dude.  It's just a cow.

The final straw in this financially draining conversation was when he let me know that he had laid out $9000 - yes, THOUSAND - for a suite at the hockey arena.  "10 seats!  $900 each"  (Yes, I can do the math, I get that.)  What I don't get is why? When you can sit ANYWHERE else in that arena...probably a better view...for a fraction of that cost.  And I don't even like hockey, but I felt compelled to help this poor shmuck find his financial freedom from frivolous spending!

Unfortunately...this friendship is based on more of a business relationship then it is a personal friendship, so even though talking money is a very personal thing, apparently it's not for him as much as it is for me.  And since I still need to continue our business relationship, I simply wished him a good day and went on my way.

But tonight I sit here and I wonder if I'm missing out on anything.  Am I losing out because I can't zip around in a sporty convertible with the wind blowing through my hair?  Nah.  The wind-blown look doesn't really work for me.

I may be salivating at the thought of what a $40 steak might actually taste like, but the cuts I buy at Aldi will work on those days to satisfy that craving.

Oh...and that box suite for the hockey games.  Come on.  It's hockey.  Nope.  Definately not missing out on anything there.

C.

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Problem of Homework?

Earlier this week I had the opportunity to view a film titled Race To Nowhere.


A fascinating film, really, that discusses how our children are overworked within the school system with too high of expectations with too low of results.  To put it simply, the problem with children being in school for 7 or more hours a day followed by 2, 3, sometimes 4 hours of extracurricular activities, and then sitting down to homework in the evening.  Sometimes multiple hours worth of studying.

IF you are a high school student...an ACTIVE high school student taking Advance Placement classes, you can easily see where this is a problem.  Thankfully, mine are still young, and my oldest has not found his extracurricular "bug" yet.  But there is the learning disadvantage that we have to struggle with on a daily basis, so yeah, there are extended periods of homework nearly every night in our house.  Or add to that when special projects are due.  Or (as we're experiencing this month), the dreaded Mid-Terms and later in the year, Finals.

Prime example:  My 6th grader who is in school for the typical 7 hour school day, had his Social Studies Mid-Term today.  So of course we've been studying off and on for the past week or so.  But he has also had his other subjects - Math, English, Science - with interval levels of homework.  Last night, being his last opportunity for studying, I found him at the table working on Math homework.

I'd like to know why these teachers can't get together, figure out their Mid-Term schedules and work together to HELP the students make the most of their study time.  As in...don't assign the kids multiple pages of practice math problems the night before their Social Studies Mid-Term!  Thankfully, his core classes are scheduled for every other day, meaning his Math homework was not actually due until the beginning of next week.  So we put that away and concentrated on studying for the test.  Unfortunately, this means he came home from school today with Science, English, AND still the Math homework to work on OVER THE WEEKEND!

If you were able to follow that...it was a perfect example of the problem that was the focus of the movie.  When are our kids supposed to have the time to just ...be kids?

Does all of the homework actually help?  I don't know about that, but... isn't it a problem if most of the class fails the Math mid-term?

I think the director of this movie may possibly be onto something.  I'm not entirely sure that I'm ready to get 100% behind it, but...I definitely see the point.  And I can't help but worry when my more...outgoing... children will be involved in the after-school sports and trying to complete their daily homework.  Or when my insanely brilliant over-achieving daughter is preparing for college with those AP classes AND extracurricular activities....

Yours truly will be keeping a close eye on this issue until I'm convinced that it's not going to be an issue for my monkey children.
Until next time,

C.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Oh boy! Hold on tight!!

The month of February is going to be...in a word...AMAZING!

On Fridays, beginning on February 3rd, NBC will air the premiere of Season 3 of Who Do You Think You Are.  LOVE the show, hate the celebrity-ism (is that a word?).  Let me clarify...I LOVE that it's a Friday night and genealogy is on Prime-Time television on one of the "big 3" networks.  Quite honestly, it's the perfect night to have the girls over, eat a whole load of junk food and get your genealogy fix.

But...it's all of the celebrities.  And the "ease" in which their family history, and stories, and ancestral photos are just handed to them by the Ancestry.com (a subscription they didn't have to pay for), and the archivists (that they simply had to hop their private jet and fly off to meet).

Genealogy is NOT that quick and NOT that easy.  It takes patience, diligence, and sometimes you just can't get that record you desperately want at the very moment that you want it because it takes time to write to, wait for, and yes, sometimes even pay through the nose for.

Still love the show, still thrilled that everyone else in the normal world will be able to get a glimpse of what it is that makes me slightly nutty.  Just slightly frustrated that it is made to look SO easy.

In addition to that, I just signed on for another blog challenge today.  NaBloPoMo went so well (it did go well didn't it?), I'm going to make an attempt in writing something...ANYTHING in regards to my family's history everyday of the month of February.   The idea being that anything written is one step closer and actually getting it done, rather than just talking about it.

So beware...February 1st, this party is going to become very historical and very genealogical.

Can you handle it??

Saturday, January 14, 2012

I Have Super-Powers! Who-Knew?


My oldest spawn is 11 years old.  Most days, it takes everything I have in me to not physically try and "knock" some sense into him.  It's a lesson in patience that I'm very slow in learning.  I know it would be helpful if I could just look at life through his eyes, and I try (sometimes) to be more understanding with the way his brain tries to think, rationalize, and make sense of the day-to-day activities.

By doing this...looking at things through his beautiful blue-gray eyes, I've come to the realization that he apparently believes that I have this unknown (to me)set of super powers.  I only wish someone would have told me before now that I possess this amazing abilities.  Maybe the crazies wouldn't have been so crazy.

For instance - the power to "keep going" once the little monkies have gone to bed.  You know, keep doing all those mom things once those lil' darlins have settled in for a night's slumber.

Wrong.

Once they are tucked in, I am off duty for the night. (not completely, for a mom/ dad is always on duty for those middle of the night bad dreams or tummy aches that sometimes happen)  But when 11 year old Precious brought down his laundry hamper at bedtime one night, and was genuinely surprised that it was still sitting in the same spot with all the same dirty clothes in it the next morning, I realized there was a super power I was missing out on. The "Able to sort-wash-dry-fold" in a single evening's activities.

Nope.  I don't do laundry after 9 o'clock.

There's also the X-Ray vision.  This one I just discovered I was missing earlier this evening when, while putting fresh sheets on Mr. Can't Do It Himself's bed, I noticed the pillow case was missing.  It's a long body-pillow that he prefers to sleep on that I made him unzip and remove the case so I could have the knowledge of it being washed at least once this year.  Well, now it was missing.  It wasn't in the dryer with the other sheets, it wasn't in the laundry hamper, it wasn't anywhere that dirty (or CLEAN) laundry should've been.

If I would've had my power of X-Ray vision, I would've been able to see that somehow it had gotten kicked under the bed when he was stripping the sheets off of his bed this morning.  Uh-huh.  Somehow.  He proceeded to bring it down to me in the basement and hand it to me as if I was going to magically kick into my "Able to sort-wash-dry-fold" super power in the next 20 minutes before it was time for his hard head to lie on his pillow.

Oh my,  the look on his face when I told him I would get it washed on Monday.  Did I forget to mention, I not only do not do laundry after 9 o'clock.  I generally don't do laundry on Sundays either.    Sorry dude.

Finally, and this missed super power is usually noticed in the mornings.  Not just from my lil' Prince Oblivious...but all of the monkeys in my house.  It's known as "Mom Goes to the Grocery Store EVERY.  SINGLE.  DAY"  power.

(I don't.)  But for some reason they think I do.

I have one grocery shopping day.  I hate grocery shopping.  Maybe it comes from too many trips with these little blessings in tow, but even now - when I can go by myself...I hate it.  I plan, I budget, I shop once.  Period.

And yet every day, at least one of them will ask for .... something.  Some box of cereal, some...snack for school, something - that they know we didn't have in the house the day before, and yet they're certain that mom has nothing better to do than hit the grocery store every day for this, that, and the other thing.

No dears.  We didn't have chocolate chip cookies in the house yesterday, and we still don't have them today.  But I'd be happy to give you your first cooking lesson and we can make some!  Hello?  Hellooooooo?  Where'd you go???  Should I take your running away as a "no"??

Okey dokey then.  So to recap.  I do not grocery shop daily.  I do not do laundry after 9 pm, and I can't see anything unless it's actually out in front of me.

But you should see the way they can make my head spin around 360-degrees on any given Saturday when all 3 of 'em are up at the crack of dawn fighting.

I need the power to ignore.  Is that so wrong??

C.

Finally! A Useful App

First, I was able to go "mobile" with my genealogy when the laptop was placed in my....well....in my lap.

And although yes, very handy to be able to take with me on my genealogy field trips, sometimes...even it can be a bit much.  There are also times when I'm thinking, reading, talking to someone, and a question will pop up about this or that ancestor of mine.

Yes, definately needed a smartphone app...and finally there is one.  Ancestry.com came through and released an app for iPhone and Android phones, and voila!!


...It took a few days to get the kinks worked out, but my tree is up and running and if you ever run into me on the street, and would like to know the line of relationship between - oh, say my 2nd cousin once removed and myself...I'll be happy to show you...on my phone...because I can now.

Have a fantastic weekend!!

C.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Oh pffbbtt...

Okay, so my Special K challenge had a minor major set-back today.  The weather turned to poo, so there was no 2.5 mile walk.  And for whatever reason, I came home this afternoon, just very very thirsty....and the Mt. Dew just sounded so good, and it had been a really, really long time...

yeah, I drank 2 in about 1/2 hour.

Dinner was lasagna, which warranted a Pepsi.

And I was still starving after dinner...AFTER I had snacked on my Special K bar.  So I made popcorn... with a side of Mt. Dew (or two)

Ridiculous.  

Believe me.  I know.

Tomorrow.  I start again.  Because I can.

Now - a friend had inquired about the Special K "Chocolaty Delight" flavor.  Just for the record I have tried it, and I honestly don't think it's real chocolate in that cereal.  It's just...ick.

I'm considering using the remains of the 5 lb. Hershey bar I received as a Christmas gift in my bowl of cereal...It's already been cut up into small squares...Really!




Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Special K Challenge - sorta

Months and months of eating too much chocolate, and drinking too much soda...has left me dissatisfied with my current state of...well, my current state.  So it was time to take the plunge and start the Special K challenge - you know, "lose a dress size in 2 weeks"

yeah, here's the thing...I really like to eat.  Real food - not just cereal and snack bars.  So I am making modifications.

First of all, physical activitiy is a must.  This is challenge #1.  I'm not big on exercise. What I mean to say is that in the time it takes me to go for a walk, or burn calories in a cardio-workout...I could very well have found a long lost ancestor from genealogy research in that amount of time!  And exercise is...exhausting.   And it makes me sweat.  And I hurt when it's all said and done.

Yes...I'm whining.

Second on the list - eating habits.  Quite honestly, mine suck. I like the yummy, tasty, soooo bad for you, kinds of foods.  Comfort food.  I also have a habit of wanting to eat late at night while researching.  With my butt in the recliner.  This is bad.  Very, very bad.

So, challenge #2 - Lose the bad (although yummy) late night snacks, unless it's part of the Special K program.  Yes...I've already cheated on this challenge...but not by completely reverting and ignoring, just ....eating less.   And that has turned out to be the perfect motivation to just get back on track the next evening (or I just simply give up and go to bed - no refrigerator in the bedroom!)

Challenge #3 - Drinking less soda - specifically, limiting myself to one can a day.  This is a tough one for me, I was drinking maybe 3, sometimes even 4 (yikes, that sounds horrible to admit that!).  

I began this challenge non-officially last Friday, officially on Saturday.

Friday - 1/2 hour cardio to motivate me to start the program Saturday.
Saturday - 10 minutes cardio.  Sad, yes I know.  I told you I hate exercise.  But I had 2 bowls of Special K, a snack bar, and a normal 3rd meal - so I met the eating habits part of my challenge.

Sunday - bad day.  Ate out...at Wendy's.  Pizza for dinner that night.  Comfort food TWICE in one day...and soda with both meals.   No exercise.  Yeah...bad day.

Monday - Walked 3 miles!!  (I know, I was kind-of impressed myself!)  Comfort food was under control, and maintained the soda limit!

Tuesday - Another 2.5 miles, and definately noticing a difference in the crappy food intake.

Today (Wednesday) - Walked 2 miles, still eating less and eating better, soda intake down.

Not bad, right?  Yeah, that's what I thought - but those moments of weakness that I had early on...they worried me a bit.  Would the Wendy's burger and Pan Pizza counter-act all the hard work on the other days?

.
.
.
.
.
Nope!  Down 4 pounds since Saturday!  (Doin' the happy dance - woot, woot!)

I have a long ways to go...a lot of hungry grumpy days ahead of me, a lot of sweat to burn excess calories, and I promise that I will not bore you with details of every pound gained or lost along the way.

At least not every day.

C.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Certifiably Certifiable

My brother is currently in pursuit of his doctorate. When he graduates in 2013, he'll be able to proudly display the letters "Ph.D." behind his name. Following in my big brother's footsteps, I am - and have been for some time now - currently considering adding my own set of postnomials to my name....

AG, CG, CGRS, CALS, CAILS, CGL, CGI, PLCGS...
Is your head spinning yet at all of those letters? To keep it simple, let's just say that I'm specifically looking at:

AG - Accredited Genealogist
CG - Certified Genealogist
PLCGS - Professional Learning Certificate in Genealogical Studies (Whew!!)
I decided to look into this when I realized how much I loved doing genealogy, and I'm of the belief that everyone should be able to do what they love doing, rather than spending their days being miserable at their job.  (Don't judge - I didn't say that I was miserable being "mom", I just think there's more out there for me to do now that the monkeys are all in school.)


To do this...I could just continue as I am now.  Consistently researching my own family, learning as I go, offering help in my spare time as it becomes available to those who inquire.


That's hard to do.  For many reasons.  I don't feel comfortable charging a fee for this when I know that there's still much for me to learn to produce quality work.  No charge...no contract....means no commitment to work away tirelessly for someone.  No commitment to someone else for their family research when my own family's needs must come first.  Those little initials after my name will also mean that I've agreed to adhere to a certain set of "standards"...a genealogical code of ethics.  Of course, I would never try to convince someone that they were a descendant of Charlemagne if they really weren't, but this code goes way past that...and that's where the extra training and learning also comes in.  Genealogists actually have to earn those letters behind their names.


Unfortunately, there just isn't a QUALITY learning program available around every corner.  I've researched my options down to a handful of free courses online from BYU and a few HUNDRED powerpoint presentations and instructional videos available through the Family Search website. - Thank you Mormon church!  LOADS of "skillbuilder" articles on the NGS website.  Unfortunately, still not enough.  There are national conferences...but those are usually too far away to even think about leaving Mr. D with monkey children for that long of a time period.  Granted, I did discover that two of them are in Ohio this year...maybe...if I beg and plead and plan my finances down to the last penny, I may able to convince him that it really is a good thing.


And then that's what I'm left with...the time and financial investment.  There are definately great learning opportunities out there that are highly regarded in the genealogical community:  


National Genealogical Society offers an online and a home study course - approximately $1000.  A very realistic option as it's 2 different segments - one that offers small online courses, and one homestudy section, thereby splitting up the cost.


Samford University in Alabama hosts a single topic course intensive for a week in June.  Only about $800 for the week.  This is more of an on-going investment each year to learn or refresh skills, so probably will be putting this off until I'm "more" ready and able to show Mr. D. my commitment and need for this each year.


Boston University - 5 months / $3500 OR National Institute for Genealogical Studies - an entire program (40 courses) for about $3,000.  Either one of these is on my "must-do" list.


oh...and don't forget the ProGen study group...only $100 to participate, but it's another time commitment of 18 months.


With all of these $$ in front of me...and the months, no...actually, it's years involved of studying....


Is it any wonder the average age of today's professional genealogist is 53 years old!  




FIFTY-THREE!


That's 13 years away, (yes...I'm turning 40 this year.) and 13 years was not part of my plan.   I was hoping for more like 5 or 7 but realistically, in 13 years all of my kids will be out of high school, and maybe...just maybe....that could actually turn out to be perfect timing to commit to someone else's family, since mine will be leaving the nest.   


Bring it on.  I'm going Pro. 

    Wednesday, January 4, 2012

    Bibliophile

    Hello.  My name is Candy, and I'm a Bibliophile.

    I love books.  Actual real books, not the e-book.  An e-book doesn't allow you to flip pages, or (god-forbid) dog-ear them to mark your page.  Yes...I turn that little corner over to mark the page where I've been reading. Don't hate me.

    An e-book also doesn't allow me the opportunity to highlight the spectacular passages that I come across.  It doesn't matter if it's a novel, a reference book, or a text book...if it's good, I'm going to underline or take a highlighter to it.  My memory sucks quite honestly.  I need to mark it when it's good.

    I love holding a big fat book in my hands.  I like to be able to find a place for it on my bookshelf.  I want to be able to open it up to that front blank page and emboss it with my "from the library of..." embosser.  (Yes, I have one and it's fabulous!)

    I don't want a Nook, unless it's a little corner that I curl up and read in.

    I don't want a Kindle, unless it's a fire starting in my fireplace that I can read the book in my hands in front of.

    The e-reader on my smartphone is only going to make me go blind trying to read from that little screen.

    When is the last time you walked into a bookstore?  They're (awesome!)  My favorite thing in the world - walking into Barnes & Noble, locating the latest issue of Family Tree Magazine off the rack, and parking my butt in one of the chairs in store.  And when I'm done, I can make my way to any number of genres to find how to make creamy stuffed figs from a new cookbook, learn why thorns can sometimes mean more than the rose itself in the "how-to" section, and then catch the history of Chestnut Ridge Park in the local history section.  ALL in one store?  It's amazing what can be discovered there!

    Don't even get me started on libraries - I'm getting goosebumps just thinking about it :)

    C.


    Tuesday, January 3, 2012

    One of those days...

    Did you ever just have ...one of THOSE days?

    The kids went back to school, Mr. D. went back to work, today was supposed to be easy and good and about getting back on target.

    {sigh}

    Whatever.

    It was too cold to be easy.  Anytime I stepped outside it just became harder and harder to ...exist.  Single degree temps only make me want to crawl back into bed.

    Okay....so yeah, it was good - kids being back in school and all.  It was the first time in the last 10 days my house was....

    shhhhh....

    listen....

    QUIET!

    It was almost as good as 1st day of school good! That's how good it was.

    But....Getting back on target?  Eh.

    I just kept missing my target all day long.  Oh I tried, but I was just...."OFF"  a little bit, all day long.  In the past month I became accustomed....spoiled, really in finding said target and accomplishing what needed to be done...well, most of the time....but still fairly successful.

    Tomorrow?  Maybe tomorrow I'll be able to find my focus and my little world will go back to the way it should be.

    For the most part anyway. ;)


    Monday, January 2, 2012

    New Year

    With the New Year comes....resolutions?  nah.  I've never been able to keep them. (I've read the book of Genesis soooo many times in the hopes of reading through my bible each year.)

    Diet?  Exercise?  nope.  They've always worked out as well as my resolutions.  (These hopelessly last all of 2 days at best)

    But with the new year, usually comes a new mindset.  It's almost like, "Okay, this is your chance to try again...let's see what you can do with it!"

    So I'm quite confident that this year will bring a change...a change for the better.Whether it's a complete change, or just the start of something that will turn out to be better in the end - well that remains to be seen.  I don't own a crystal ball, and I've never been big on the prophesy end of things.  And the "How" and the "When" aren't completely up to me.  So this leaves me to play a bit of a waiting game.

    Super.

    Not my favorite thing to do, as my patience level barely exists on most days.

    But I just have to believe...and I hold onto the knowledge that in the end, this will all be worth the wait.