Tuesday, November 14, 2017

November: Food Traditions - Part 2

Now, most times we think food traditions are always successful, or that's how it always seems to us from all the posts on social media and pictures sent in family newsletters. So with the same prompt from last week in mind, I asked my husband's grandmother what types of food traditions they had and here was what she had to say: 

Grandma: Well, there have not many accomplished cooks in my past.  Mom never felt like she was a good cook but she did all right.  The only recipe she made and said many had complimented her was homemade vegetable soup that she made in a deep well cooker.  Unfortunately, I was not fond of it and never asked her to teach me--so I don't have the recipe.  As far as introducing kids to food...I have to say I have admired Celeste's approach to it.  She had her kids all cook with her and bake.  She would put them up on the counter-top and let them measure and stir etc.  Even get their hands in it if required.  Messy, but fun.  

I have no secret recipes. Your mother-in-law guards her chocolate chip cookie recipe, but that's the closest I can come to secret.  I had an aunt on my father's side that we asked for a recipe after Christmas dinner one year at her house.  She did give it to Mom but when we tried it it didn't work right at all.  Mom said she probably left something out on purpose.  Apparently she had done something like that before.  Not nice!  So don't have that recipe either.  Just remember (as I'm sure yo will) that the memories of doing stuff together are more important than the food itself, at least in my opinion.  I do have memories growing up making Sunday dinner together. It was our big meal of the week (we were Methodists then).  We would come home from church and Mom would peel potatoes (usually with our help.  Sometimes we would have races to see who was fastest.  Mom usually won even though she used a knife and we used peelers.  Dad would grill (indoor electric kind) steak, my brother Merrill would cut the french fires and cook them, Mom would make the salad.  I helped with the salad.  I remember "stealing" a slice of cucumber and getting whacked with the blade of the knife Mom was holding.  Not cut--whacked!  then we'd all laugh and go on.  I would set the table and when it was all done, we'd have dinner.  I was the baker for the family.  Mom hated it and I asked to try to learn.  I could make a mean chocolate loaf cake and frost it.  My Dad asked me to bake one for him to take to a church meeting and I did--only it came out with a huge hole in the center.  He was embarrassed.  Me too. But he smiled and took it anyway.  Good father.

See, so we learn here that's it's not just the actual eating of food that makes the best traditions, but the consistency of preparing meals together, and having a good laugh even when the food we prepare does not quite turn out as planned. So, next time you don't think your dish is "Food Network" worthy, just remember the fun memories you just created in the kitchen with your family. You'll thank yourself later. 

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

November: Food Traditions - Part 1

It's November which usually means loads of baked goods, warm soups and more on the table than most any other month. So, instead of hearing me ramble on about food traditions that we only have, I reached out to some other family members to see what sticks out to them in particular when I mention "food traditions".

So for the next couple of weeks, I have "guest" bloggers featured with their experiences. This week is my husband's wonderful aunt, Cindy.

 Me: How does (or how has) your family involve children with old and/or treasured family recipes and food stories around the holidays? Which ways have you found to be successful? What is something that you wish could be different or improved?

Cindy: This is what we do at our house. Our idea not only addresses food but also family history. On our ancestors’ birthday, we eat their favorite foods or make the recipes that they used to make and we remember fondly. As we prepare and eat those foods, we share stories about their lives. We also ask our children questions about that ancestor and look at pictures of them so they can learn about them.  Our children have come to expect those dates of celebration and can easily remember more about those ancestors!

We even do this same exercise about our living family members on their birthdays and share stories or unknown facts about each other!

Two of our favorite examples are Monster Cookie Day on Great Grandma Duvall’s birthday and Chocolate Gravy on Great Grandma Harris’ birthday. Now we have added my Dad to the list of rotations, and we have an “SBEC.” He loved a sausage biscuit egg with cheese and called it an SBEC for short.

We have to make meals on our ancestors’ birthdays and have dinner conversation anyway, so we enjoy celebrating the lives of our loved ones while doing so!

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Bloom where you are planted.

This week marks a BIG anniversary in our family - this time last year, Ryan was offered and accepted his job here in Utah. I'm going to be honest. Neither of us wanted to live in Utah. It wasn't even on our top 25 places. So, when this was the only job offer that was working out the way it needed to before his college graduation, it was time for me to be slapped with the stick of humility.

Utah was pretty far from either of our immediate families -- though, thankfully we have extended family strewn across the state. So, yeah, a tough pill to swallow when we figured out this was the place that we needed to be at this time. Over time, I have learned to love where I'm at. To make new friends, to be involved with things around me and to enjoy the beauty of God's creations that are only within minutes from our current rental.

So, how does this tie into family history, you ask?

Lately, I've put myself in a few different projects to help preserve the stories and memories. I won't go into details, since they are not complete yet.

Well, for the past year I've been working on collecting stories and memories as that's almost a little bit more important than sourcing (actually, it's a way of sourcing) -- especially for the last few generations where these types of memories are possible of being in existence.

One of these stories/projects that I've been working on, I came across by chance. I often have email exchanges with my husband's grandmother and we talk about various subjects. One of these emails, I had asked her to tell me some memories of her mother. In a short blurb, she told me that she (her mother) and her second husband had found the LDS Church during the 1964-65 World Fair in New York City.

Having quite the interest in history and not knowing a lot about the World Fair, I made it my goal to learn more. To learn more about their experience. To walk in their shoes, as the phrase goes.

But this week, it dawned on me that my husband's job was not the only reason why we moved to the Salt Lake/Ogden area.

I stumbled across some items that are only available down in Salt Lake on Temple Square for viewing. These items will most likely not be digitized for a very long time, so it rested on me to get down there to look at these items to help complete the story.

If I didn't live where I did, I'd be missing out on experiencing their story, but who knows anyone else's that comes in the future?

It's been another whack with the stick of humility of being truly grateful for the opportunities in the places that we live. It may be hard, but there is a purpose and a bigger plan (not just in a family history sense) and we just have to be willing and ready to find it.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Family History as a Gift

Sometimes when we think of Family History, the last thing we associate it with is a Christmas gift -- at least for some. In my family, it's something that is commonly found and in many different forms. So if you're struggling to find that perfect handmade gift you want to make, hopefully this month's post will give you some ideas that maybe you and your kids can go together and maybe learn a little bit of your family history, or maybe help them create some of their own. And some of these will probably spill into the "Traditions" post in a couple of months as well.

Some of the best gifts that kids can make are always handmade. Things from stores are great, but we know we all love something a little handmade.

Here are a few I've (and my mom) have done in the past:

Peg Dolls were a popular thing -- and still are. So, for Christmas 2015, my mom made these fun peg doll ornaments to represent each one of us from my husband and I's wedding in 2013 to put on the Christmas tree that year. What a way to remember a special day! 

This was a Christmas present I made a few years back for my grandparents. A lot of people have done custom water color paintings, but I decided to do a custom fabric "painting" with the help of a few friends a wee bit more talented than myself. 

Especially at Christmas time it has been a fun tradition and gift to trace hand prints every year and compare them to the years past. (The photo above is not mine.) We usually use fabric paint to write the name and year and let it sit out to dry overnight. Then cut a hole in the wrist and either put a ribbon or yarn piece through it to hang from. Now, or at Thanksgiving would be the perfect time to do it so you can enjoy this year's on the tree now instead of a year from now. 

Of course there are more than the above ways to let kids be a part of family history gifts. There are endless ways, these are just some ideas. Granted not all of these are "kid friendly" to make. So think of ones your family has made in the past, or use Pinterest to help you create some new ones that you'll enjoy for quite the time to come!

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Addi's Nest Subscription Box: Review

A long time overdue, but here's our review of the Addi's Nest Family History for Kids subscription box! (This is a review for the August 2017 box.)

We (my daughter and I always walk to the mailbox together so opening the mailbox is always a new adventure and guessing game of what will be inside. One afternoon after we had gotten home from a long couple of trips out of town, we got home and had our first subscription box from Addi's Nest! We could hardly wait to get back to the house to open it up and see what surprises and fun activities were inside! 

So,  we got home and opened up our box to find a sweet note that explained the theme for the month and what to look for inside the box as some things might be smaller than others. Each of the items were wrapped so it made the process even MORE fun to rip into!

My daughter is just over a year old, so some things in the box were a little advanced for her. There is a disclaimer, however, that it is best suited for ages 4 and up, so keep that in mind. Hopefully in the future we will see more customization box options, but since they are just starting, it's a GREAT place to start! 

So far her favorite is to play with the Story Rocks that came in the box. Lately, for family night we love to make up stories about things or even share with her simple family stories that keep her attention just long enough. It's for sure something that she can continue to use as she gets older and find more uses for as well! 

There was also a puppet making kit that we did make eventually as well as a fun little journal to write stories in that you learn as you visit your family members so you can remember them. Sadly, Caroline's still a bit small to use those, but if she were older I could see her having a blast with both!

The best part (at least I think) for Caroline was the side package that came with the box -- a very special book! This month's book was "The Matchbox Diary". Again, a little over her comprehension level as far as the story line, but this girl loves to sit with mom or dad and read a story. The pictures are bright and colorful! It's a great read with kids at the comprehension level for the book (ages 4+).

This is such a great idea for a subscription box, I can't wait til Caroline is just a little bit older to be able to understand what's going on with each individual item. With so many different subscription-type boxes out there, this is one that you and your kids will be sure to love as well as create memories and learn more about your family and your kids more about themselves and what makes them special!

To learn more about Addi's Nest and the monthly subscription boxes available, click here. 

Friday, August 4, 2017

Family Reunions: A few ideas.

I could probably say that the first 5 summer (if not more) of my childhood were spent at reunions. Mainly for one side of the family, as they were (and still are) diligent about it! Even though I don't remember them, maybe blips here and there, my parents were smart and took pictures as the baby was passed around or just of the kids playing on the playground at the local park with other 2nd cousins, or whatever the name for them was. Usually planned in advance to accommodate work and school schedules, it's always a challenge to meet all of them, but you do what you can in hopes that if they can't make it this time around, hopefully the next will be more successful.

1991 Gold Reunion (5 DAYS OLD!)

1992 Gold Reunion with my mom

1992 Gold Reunion with "Aunt" Vernice

1993 Gold Reunion sitting on my dad's lap

Most of the time when we think of a family reunion (or maybe in our teenage years), we think of old people sitting around and telling stories. Or to most kids -- doing the "boring things" -- like talking. While that *can* be true, I have a few ideas and some that haven been proven to be helpful that I'll share:

- Camping: This of course comes at the top of my list as it's one of my favorite things to do in summer. This isn't just camping either -- this includes sight seeing (depending on where you are), hikes (suitable for all age groups) -- the WHOLE ENCHILADA! At night tell stories around the picnic table while you play your family's favorite card game. Or if you're so inclined, roast s'mores and tell stories around a campfire. Just watch the kids closely!

2004 SC Gold Reunion - Yellowstone

2004 SC Gold Reunion - Yellowstone @ Fishing Bridge
- Meet at a local park: There's lots of opportunity here. Especially if you can rent a pavilion a head of time that way you can have shaded areas for sitting and you have the whole rest of the park to make chat circles, play different yard games (ie, Kite Flying, Croquet, Ultimate Frisbee, etc) We did this with a family reunion and a would-be-100th birthday celebration for my Great Grandmother. Now here is where kiddo involvement comes into play.

A) Cover the tables with paper, put crayons and other drawing utensils around and give the kids themes to work with to illustrate such as their family events that have happened (or are happening),  Play an ongoing tic tac toe game, or just let them scribble to their heart's content. The possibilities are endless!

B) At the last reunion we were able to make, each family was given a "science fair poster board" -- you know the tri-fold boards. Each family had to, in their own creative way, illustrate each sub family and write the notable things. Some families got creative, some just wrote and it was a lot of fun to read and look at around lunch time since most of the families at the reunion now are very spread apart across the continental United States.

Here was our extended family example and yet, SO much has changed since!

The last idea can be a toss up for older kids, depending on your families age demographics for kids. 

C) Do a fun interactive family timeline. My mom put one together starting with events from my great grandparent's lives until present (2015). It was fun for me to add in my birthday and my husband and I's wedding and other events that were important to us. The rest of the extended family did the same and it was a pretty full board by the time we were done.

D)  I think another fun thing to do maybe for the younger kids (ages 4 and up, maybe?) would be to write memories of grandparents or great grandparents if they are still alive. Whether you give them card stock paper and turn it into a special book, let them color on the table and take great photos of them, etc. Just something I had thought of...

The best part about family reunions is that they are all unique and very individual. What works for my extended family may not work for yours and that's ok! It's always fun to share ideas to help give others a boos into maybe planning their own in the future. It takes a lot of work (and that is a HUGE understatement!) We appreciate everyone who takes the time, and energy into planning them!

Monday, July 10, 2017

Family History: Brought to Life on the Road

Since we're more than half way into summer, vacations are en route and so this month we're chatting about family history vacations, or in my case "family history stops".

I won't have a lot to offer as a family of four years and a one-year old, so my experiences will come from growing up and then maybe a few ideas that I had that maybe would work for you.

Growing up, my family loved doing road trips. More economical for a family of seven, not to mention you get to see more of the sights along the way, rather than if you were in the air.

A lot of our trips meant going up through Utah. If you've ever lived or been to Utah, there are cemeteries everywhere -- even to the point that they are classified as "Historical". Yes, Salt Lake City, I'm talking to you. Anyways, as a kid, I always found it super boring to get out of the car to basically do a scavenger hunt for the relative's stone that we hadn't gotten a picture of yet. (Especially when I was looking forward to making it to the destination of Yellowstone National Park.) But now that I live within 50 miles of the Greater SLC area, it's nice as I pretty much know where to go now. So, that's one thing that our family did growing up.

Another thing was my parents took a trip north east (Pennsylvania) when we were younger -- I'm pretty sure it was connected to a reunion, but visiting all the homes, places of work, worship and more.  That is something I would love to do with our kids one day, but first I would have to prioritize and figure out where we would want to go first. To me, that's always the hard part -- deciding the point of interest and then where to go from there.

So as I thought about how I could use this and accommodate a growing family, here are some of the ideas I came up with on how to involve kids before a big trip, or involving them in the planning:

- Lay out a few possible places that are of interest, show home videos, pictures or any other visual aid to help kids understand where they could go

- Learn about the family members before going. What was daily life like? What did they do for a living? Maybe compare a map from when they lived there to a modern-day map and see what might have changed. (Who knows, maybe their house is now a gas station?)

- Encourage the kids to take pictures on the trip. And you be sure to take some too! What kids take pictures of is just another neat perspective on the trip and will be fun to look back on later.

- Be sure to take pictures of historic buildings, places of work and even houses if possible. Anything to connect you and your kids to the past.

- Once home, create your own map using pictures that you took of your trip and discoveries.