Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Friday, August 10, 2012

Home Sweet...ohhhh.

We got home from vacation and were thrown right back into reality and the time-consuming task at hand:  packing and other preparations for our move.  Packing up and moving used to seem easier and more exciting.  Yeah, that was when we didn't have so much stuff.  And no kids.

And then there was the popcorn ceiling.  Oh, that dumb, expensive ceiling.  The ceiling which is still not done.  Well, I should clarify.  The popcorn removal and retexturing is done.

The clean-up is not, however.  Sure, the contractor taped everything off.  But when we moved in there was a layer of dust on EVERYTHING.  I'm still finding it in closets, along baseboards, on light fixtures...We could live here 20 years and still find ceiling matter to clean up.  

Then there is the matter of painting.  We didn't pay to have it painted.  Which means we have 2000 square feet of ceiling to prime and paint.  And the texture (seen in the application process in the photo below) does look better when it's not just the bare plaster.  It's just going to take forever.  And we haven't even started thinking of the walls yet...

But Claire is already loving the swings in the back yard.

And we have artichokes!  (No matter that I have no idea how to prepare artichokes - I've only ever had the hearts that come in a jar.  But I'm sure I'll figure it out.)  They sure look pretty.

As for the rest of the garden?

Well, it needs a little work.  Since it's so late in the season, I'm sure that will be something to tackle much later on.

At least the clematis don't need a lot of help.  They look pretty all on their own.

Julia came to see us 2 days after we moved in.  She was a lovely house guest.  Not only because she is so lovely, but also because she was patient with the fact that we didn't have any food in the house, there were boxes everywhere, and much of the weekend was spent locating random items and making appliance runs to Sears when we discovered that the fridge we picked out was really much too big for the space.  I was a goob and only took this one picture of Julia and Claire playing together.  But Claire loved having her as a playmate for a few days.  

And she loves this room.  She has everything she needs right here (she was very relieved to find out that all of her toys were coming to the new house with us).  And she's wasted no time in making this space her own.  

Someday we'll get there.  We'll be fully furnished, fully painted, and fully organized.  But for right now, we are definitely a work in progress.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Pioneer Heritage

Adam likes to tease me because I don't have "pioneer heritage" in my family.  We are Mormon, and within our faith there is a special reverence for the Mormon pioneers that traveled across the plains to escape religious persecution and who ultimately settled in Utah in the late 1840s.  Well, in Adam's family history, he has an abundance of just such pioneers.  Since my parents are the ones who joined the church when I was a young girl, I never felt like the Mormon pioneer story was my own.  Sure, they left an amazing legacy for all members of the church and paved the way for me to be a part of my faith today.  But I never really identified with the stories I heard of men, women and children walking the 1300-odd miles from Illinois to what is now Utah.

I have been working on my family history for about three years now.  I would call it a hobby.  If you had told me 5 or 10 or 15 years ago that I would love doing family history, I probably would've given you a strange look and walked away.  But I have fallen in love with the researching process.  More importantly, I am amazed and awed and fascinated by my ancestors.  

I have respect for people who did genealogy the hard way (i.e. 10 years ago or more).  I can't imagine the painstaking process of writing letters and hoping for records or other assistance via mail.  I am very cognisant of the ease of the search now days.  With so much on the Internet, images already indexed just waiting for me to type in a name, I was able to get immediate results when I would do a search.  Instant gratification.  That's not to say that I haven't "ordered" things.  That is a fun process as well.  But the vast majority of my findings - everything from census records to cemetery transcriptions to genealogy books - have been available online.  

But sometimes, seeing things in person is just, well, BETTER.  

I discovered that two of my 5th great grandfathers fought in the Revolutionary War.  That in and of itself was a major discovery.  None of us knew we even had ancestors here that long!  But then I discovered that when one of the families - the Leach family - moved to and settled in Wisconsin, they brought the Revolutionary War rifle with them.  And it was in a museum in Oshkosh, just a mere 45 minute drive from my parent's home!  So while I found the information about the rifle online, this was just something I needed to see in person.  Luckily, Adam, my parents and sister were game, so we went to see the rifle of Micah Leach, Jr., my 5th-great grandfather. (His is the second one down - the long one).

The museum had a few other Leach family artifacts.  Below is a painting done by Alonzo Leach, my third great grand uncle (No, I did not make that up.  I had a little help from Ancestry.com to tell me the official relationship.)  Alonzo was the brother of my 3rd great grandfather, Milo Leach.  Milo, Alonzo, their other brothers and their mother were the generation that settled in Wisconsin a little before 1850.  They brought the rifle with them.

We also made a drive out to Marion in Waushara County, which is in central Wisconsin.  This is where a few lines of my ancestors settled.  I am so glad Adam was willing to make this trip with me.  I was able to spend a few hours at the court house and found some records.  Then we drove out to the Marion Cemetery to look for the graves of some of the people I had been learning about.  I had found a transcription of the cemetery done a decade ago, and yet I still wanted to see the site.  I'm so glad we went when we did.  In just a decade, many of the graves are now illegible, and even worse, many were broken.  

These are the graves of Venlora Cole and her husband, Ezra.  She is my 4th great grandmother (and the mother of Milo and Alonzo, named above). Ezra Cole is her second husband.  As you can see, her gravestone broke off and is being reclaimed by the ground.  Venlora died in 1894 at the age of 98.  Man, she must have been one tough woman.

This is the headstone of Eunice, my 3rd great grandmother.  She was the first wife of Milo Leach (again, the one named above).  When she settled in Wisconsin with Milo, she had also brought her father, Asaph Corse, with her.  It's amazing to me that not only did these families make the long journey from upstate New York (and had even lived in Massachusetts and Vermont before going to NY), but that they all came out together.  It's just so different from today - it's normal/common for children to move away from where their families are, but usually the parents and siblings don't move with them!  As you can see, this headstone broke and was cemented in the middle, which renders much of it unreadable.  Thankfully I have the transcriptions that were done years ago so that I still know what it says).

These are the graves of Frank E. and Elmer E. Leach, the sons of Milo and Eunice.  They both died as children, about a year apart from each other.  Frank died when he was 4, and Elmer died at only 22 days.  It's actually humbling to see Claire and Henry next to these graves.  Claire noticed the little doves on the top of the graves.  Again, these were pretty hard to read, but thank goodness for the transcription!

And this is the headstone of Sarah Jane McCully, another of my 3rd great grandmothers.  This is the main reason I'm glad we went when we did.  As you can see, Adam needed to hold all the pieces together just so I could photograph it.  One piece he had to dig completely out of the ground.  If we had waited even a year longer to visit this place, we may not have found this grave at all.  And if it had been repaired, we probably wouldn't have been able to read anything (take Eunice's headstone, for example.  That was just one mending point straight across the headstone.  But Sarah's is broken in multiple places.  If it had been cemented together, we probably wouldn't be able to read anything).  

Sarah Jane McCully died at the age of 36, just months after losing 3 of her children (I presume due to illness, since they all died within 2 weeks of each other).  I remember when I first learned of the death of her children, I literally felt heartbroken.  Life was so hard then. Not only did these people migrate from different countries, sometimes across oceans (the McCully's, for example, went from what is now Northern Ireland during the potato famine to Ontario, Canada, before finally settling in Wisconsin), but they had to create farms out of forest, fight wars in their own country (Sarah Jane's husband Joseph, for example, was away in the army during the Civil War when she died in 1863), and deal with the heartache of loosing multiple children. 

They were pioneers in every sense of the word.  

I am so glad I got to see these things on my "family trip."  I am thankful for a husband who supports me in my crazy pilgrimages to cemeteries, museums, and courthouses in far-off places.  And I am thankful to be able to learn about the strong people that my ancestors were.  The more I learn, the more I am amazed about these people and their journeys and their lives.  And everyone in this country has pioneer heritage, regardless if the reasons for exodus were faith, economics, politics, or any other of the myriad of reasons that would cause someone to leave their home in search of another. It just takes a little looking beyond the names and dates to piece together their stories.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Wisconsin In Review (Week 2)

Our second week in Wisconsin started with a bang (both literally and figuratively).  

Adam flew in and joined us on the 4th of July.  It was so hot.  Like 108 degree hot.  So we stayed inside until about 8 pm when we drove up to our family friends' home in Brussels, which is on the Bay.  

We enjoyed the small pyrotechnics show that they put on .

And then we enjoyed the fireworks taking place in various places across the bay (including Green Bay's show)

We had hoped to take in a Brewers game, but it was just too hot.  We headed to Milwaukee anyway, split up to see different attractions (we opted for the museum, simply because of the kid-friendliness), and then met up later for dinner.  

The museum was fun, and Claire really loved the butterfly garden.

Not to mention the butterfly-related activities.

Claire also loved the dinosaurs (she is starting to get an interest in them, and was excited to know the names of the ones at the museum).

I remember going on field trips to this museum as a kid and there would always be one or two kids who would cry because the T. Rex was scary.  I wasn't sure what Claire would think, but she took it like a champ.  

Another favorite was the shell room.  We had recently checked out a book from the library from which she learned a few shell names.  She had fun trying to identify the ones she remembered from the book.

I am really into doing family history.  Adam was such a good sport and let me drag him into central Wisconsin to make a pilgrimage of sorts to see Waushara County, which some of my ancestors helped settle a little before 1850.  It was mostly farm land, but it was still beautiful.  There were rolling hills and farm fields surrounded by trees.  I don't know exactly where my ancestors homesteads were, but I was so happy to see the area that they lived in.  

On our way home, we stopped in Waupaca to get some pizza at the Wheelhouse.  My family spent many a summer camping in this area.

It was perfect.  

The water was nice and warm, and the fish were friendly.  They nibbled at our toes.

Adam and I made good use of the swing.  

Claire made good use of the lake.

I would say that she was joyful.

On our last day we went to Lambeau Field and had fun trying on cheeseheads in the pro shop.

And we enjoyed the native wildlife.  (This is a sandhilll crane.)

And then, before we knew it, it was time to say goodbye.

It was so good to be home.  We can't wait until we can visit again!

Harper Turns 3!

We sure love this little girl, and we were excited to wish her a happy birthday.  But, of course, this little sassafrass decided to have so...