Tuesday, February 28, 2017

We are all flawed.

When I'm still thinking about a talk I heard at church 2 days later, I 
want to write about it.

The subject was love. Given by a Mom of 5 kids.

She said when her kids were younger (they are now about 9-19
she would often get in the middle of their disagreements. But 
when they all seemed to come at her at once and she had no idea 
what was going on, or who was right and who was wrong, she 
developed a plan.

This was clearly on days when they were all not getting along. She 
would send them all to different spots in the house for a time 
out. Then she would tell them they could come out as soon as they 
could come tell her what they did wrong. 

She did not want to hear anything about anyone else. She just 
wanted to know what they did wrong, or what they could have 
done better.

It could have been even something simple like, "I should have said 
that in a different tone."

She said this was very hard for a few of them.

In my younger years, even a decade or two ago, I'm not so sure I 
would have agreed with this. There is often someone who is more 
guilty than the other. Someone who is more selfish, or someone 
who stirs the pot in a family more.

But then as I was sitting there Sunday I thought what a gift this 
Mom is giving to her children. Perhaps as adults they will not be 
spending sleepless nights trying to think of ways to change others.

Love is the greatest power we have.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Cami's Voice

She has her own special laptop machine. It's programed to sound like her voice. We can start
communicating back and forth with her! I can't even tell you what this does to me hearing her

And she is so proud!

Saturday, February 18, 2017

My wonders of the week #9

1. Earlier this week when Dennis went out to get the newspaper 
he noticed something by it but couldn't figure out what it was. 

We are pretty sure we have never received a gift from a newspaper 
person before. As in never in our lifetime! 

As I looked it over I could tell it's homemade. I can't get over the 
sweetness! I don't even know our paper person but I'm thinking it's 
probably a she, right? And how do we find her to thank her??

I guess I better start by calling the Fresno Bee. 

2. I think I may need to take a class about being mindful, or in the 
moment. Last Christmas, which was only a few weeks ago right? 
Somehow, even though I obviously opened this gift, 

it did not register in my head because a few days ago 
I found these and got so excited!! 

I love them and put them right on our fridge.  

I put a few in my scanner so I could show you, but let's just say 
refrigerator magnets don't work well in the scanner. 

I much prefer McKay's head on his shoulders.
McKenna is still gorgeous, even with a high forehead.

 3. Many of my extended family from way back, is from North 
Carolina. So earlier this week while I was looking for some info I 
opened one of my Mom's old binders up, 
and look was is at the bottom of the first page.

I was struck by their state motto.
Are people not acting real there in North Carolina?

4. Dennis received a late birthday gift from Karen and Tyler a 
couple days ago. He knows how interested Den is in his life and 
even in his daily schedule so he made him a chart. 
I deleted some of the times, respectful of their privacy.
Actually two...one for the fridge and one for his office.
This makes both of us very happy. Can't explain it, but it does.

5. My Dad has a cold this week and sounded terrible on the phone 
so we opted not to go visit them this week. 

I was feeling fine while talking to him but an hour later I was sick 
too. I must have picked it up over the phone lines. Who knew. 

Good thing I had this good recipe from my Allrecipes magazine.
I just put it in the crockpot one day and went back to bed. 
If you don't have any cooked chicken lying around, you could be 
like me and add 3-4 frozen chicken thighs instead.
I also added some garlic and a little fresh ginger to it.
(ginger feels SO good on your scratchy throat)
I've also added other vegetables and it's always good.
We opt out on the noodles.

I think we all could use some sunshine 
to get our Vitamin D levels up. 

The price we have to pay to have all this 
much prayed for rain in California!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Some family history stories are not happy ones.

I'm pretty sure I'm the only one still alive who knows this story. So for that reason I feel compelled to 
share it here so my sons and their families will have it should they need it in the future.

Everyone who is Mormon, has their own conversion story.
My parents had theirs, which I posted HERE.

So this is how my first husband, Bill, found the church. There's lots of sadness in this story so I don't
mean to imply these horrible things happened so he would find the church. It's just the truth of how
this story unfolds.

If this can be considered a conversion story, it is the most unusual one I've ever heard.

It began to me as a family mystery. Back in the mid 1970s my first husband, Bill, and I were
attempting to do his family history work. When we'd go through the Heasley line we were able to find
information. But whenever we would attempt to investigate his mother's line, we would get stopped
by his maternal Grandma, Alice. Her maiden name was Altop, but she would say to us, "Don't do 
the Altop line because that is NOT my family." Then she would go on to say, "I was adopted, so 
go through the Massa line, NOT the Altop. I'm a Massa!"

She obviously had issues with being adopted, or so we thought. Made no sense because we
discovered she was only about a year old when she was placed into the Altop family...so she couldn't
have had memory of her bio mom, Dominica Massa.

So Bill and I would discuss that the Altops must not have been good parents to her, maybe even
abusive? She was probably not wanting to claim them because of that? We could only guess.

So a few times while we were talking to Grandma Alice about her family, I gently and carefully
asked her something like, "Were the Altops good people?" and her response was alway this: "They 
were decent people." Nothing more.

So then why did she not claim them as her family?

Didn't make sense to either one of us, but out of respect to her we just ignored the Altop line and or
any line connecting Alice to family.

It all just stopped right there and remained one big mystery.

Until one afternoon we were visiting Grandma Alice at her home in Coalinga. Her birth sisters, Lee
and Thelma were also visiting that day. (Yes, Alice had 2 older birth sisters. When Lee, the older of 
the 3 sisters, became an adult, she went looking for her 2 younger birth sisters, Thelma and Alice. So 
somewhere back in the day the sisters reunited and stayed close.)

In the past when I would ask Grandma Alice about the reuniting of her birth sisters, she was vague,
not really answering any questions, and just changing the subject.

But that afternoon Grandma Alice went somewhere....so did Bill, his parents, and 2 of our sons. I
think they went together to get ice cream at Thriftys as they often did, I can't remember, but I found
myself sitting around the kitchen table with Grandma's birth sisters, Lee and Thelma. With my baby
McKay on my lap. This was 1984

I don't know how the subject came up that day, but Lee and Thelma started talking about their birth
mom and how lucky they were to have found their birth sisters all these years later. They never told
me how that came to be, but they did talk about their birth mom and why the 3 sisters grew up in 3 
separate homes.

As they explained to me that day, their mom, Dominica Massa had just given birth to her 3rd
daughter (Grandma Alice) when her husband suddenly left her. He took off, and was gone. Thelma
did most of the talking, "Back in those days a woman could not survive without a man to support 
her. So Mom married the first guy who came along. Problem is he didn't like children."

She went on to explain that after they were married he insisted she give the daughters up. Thelma
very matter of fact explained, "So mom put us in an orphanage. She was so upset about losing us, 
that she got a job in that orphanage so she could be with us each day."

Soon their mom became pregnant. She was fearful of telling her husband this so she attempted to
give herself an abortion. She died in that attempt. So all 3 girls (about 1, 3, and 5 or 6) were
relinquished for adoption and put into three different homes. Lee was the older sister so she
remembered her mom and she remembered being taken from her sisters.

This is when 1 year old Alice was adopted by the Altops. It just so happened they were Mormon, so
Alice grew up active in the church, but for whatever reason she did not remain so for at least the first
two decades of her adult life. Alice married young and had her first and only child, Niada (my sons'
Grandma), when she was 18.

Alice eventually came back into the Mormon church. By now her daughter Niada was married and
they had 2 young sons. Alice wanted her daughter and her family to also have the church in their life
so with their permission she arranged to have the missionaries teach them. Soon Niada, her husband
Bill and their 2 sons Jim and Bill were baptized. But since it was a long drive to church they soon
quit going and that was that.

When Bill joined the Army at age 18, the form asked what religion he was. He barely remembered
being baptized, but he did remember he was Mormon, so he wrote that down.

Several years later, after he completed his Army duty, he thought about the religion he listed on those
Army forms and wondered about the Mormon church. So while attending college in Visalia, one
Sunday he stopped in to one of the Mormon churches, walked up to the bishop and basically said,
"All I know is that I'm a baptized Mormon. But I don't know anything about it." This kind
bishop brought him into his office where they talked for a few hours. From that day forward he
started attending church and the Young Single Adult activities. Four months later he moved to
Fresno, and that's when I met him. We married 19 months later.

I did find Alice's baptism certificate in an old brief case containing Bill's old genealogy family sheets.
But I noticed it was signed in 1977. I'm assuming this must be when the sisters reunited....and
somehow they were able to track down this event, find this Catholic church, and ask for a certificate. 
I'm just assuming here, but perhaps when Alice found out her mother did not WANT to give her up, 
she felt an allegiance and loyalty to her. Perhaps that is why 
she kept saying she was a Massa and not an Altop. 

Searching now on Familysearch.com, I notice that her adopted mother has the name of Minnie Niada 
Altop. Alice named her daughter Niada, and all these years I thought she had made up that name 
since I'd never heard it before! 

Now I see she named her daughter after the woman who adopted her and raised her. 
So she must have loved her adopted Mom too. 

Also, her original parents were married of course, 
so technically she was born with the last name of Miller, not Massa.
But I'm guessing she was angry her dad left her Mom and put her though all the anguish 
of losing her daughters, and even losing her life. So she didn't want to claim being a Miller. 
Another logical assumption on my part.

Sometimes as I learn what someone has gone through, it's much easier to understand them. 

The older I get the more I realize I need to just assume whoever I meet is having some sort of 
deep sadness I know nothing about. I believe it's usually true.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

A pregnant woman would understand this

When Dennis saw this video tonight, he had doubts about it being 
real. But I corrected him, and said pregnant women can really be 
THIS passionate about their food. 

Actually Susan (my Dad's wife) sent me this video. It's her 
granddaughter, Rachel who is pregnant with her first baby

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Things could have so easily turned out differently for all of us.

...as in, we might not have existed.

Last month I started the 52 Stories challenge of answering one prompt each week about my life.
By the end of the year, my 52 stories should pretty much sum up my life story.

So week 6 the question was:
"Do you know the story of how your grandparents 
met and fell in love?"

I know nothing about how Romeo and Leonie met, my Dad's parents.

But I did find out how Earl and Lella met....
my Mom's parents via information that was written by my mom in 1962 and 1982.

So here's how her parents met. Not so remarkable until you know the back story which I will explain.

In the Fall of 1917 when my Grandpa Earl Slinkard was 26, single and still not having met my
Grandma, he joined the Army, the 20th Engineers. This outfit was made up of 20,000 men, all with
mountain and forest service.

He was first sent to Angel Island in San Francisco where he waited a entire month for enough men to
collect before being sent to the American University in Washington, DC.

Finally on the way back to DC, he and the men he was traveling with were snowbound in Slater,
Missouri, and delayed for three days. Because of this delay, they missed the ship they were
scheduled to be on. They were to learn later that ship was bombed.

After arriving in DC, he and his men ended up sailing the Pasteries, which was part of a large convoy
to France. During this long trip Grandpa was stricken with spinal meningitis and was unconscious 
for most of the 30 days in route.

Now I would think having spinal meningitis would be beyond horrible even in a nice hospital with
medical people hovering around. But being that sick on a ship in the middle of the sea!??

When Grandpa came to, he was at Base Hospital 101 in St Nazarie, France.
according to google that's a sterilizer in front of the hospital he was at

He was so sick the doctors gave up hope for him....all but one intern and a nurse. He craved liquor
and the nurse said if he were going to die then he was going to die happy. So she fixed him a very
strong "eggnog." After that his condition improved and he continued to have his "eggnog" each day.
He stayed in this hospital for five months, from Feb-July.

He was then transferred to a convalescent center in central France. Still not able to do any work, he
was finally sent homeward bound on Sept 13, 1918 on an auxiliary cruiser, the Harrisburg. He arrived
at Staton Island about Oct 1st. He stayed 2 weeks, then he headed for Fort Des Moines, Iowa on a
hospital train where he stayed until December.

He than came to San Diego, Ca where he was discharged the day before Christmas, 1918.

Okay, so here's where my Grandma comes in. On his way from San Diego he stopped in Bakersfield
to see his sister Ida. There he met his future wife Lella, who was Ida's roommate!

I see the hand of the Lord in my Grandpa's life, and because of that, the hand in my life and all of my
family who came from the marriage of my grandparents.  If he hadn't been snowed in those 3 days in
Missouri he would have been bombed in that previously scheduled ship. And really, who lays
unconscious with spinal meningitis for 30 days at sea and lives to tell about it. And such struggles
while in the Army. He was in some sort of hospital for over a year.
There's me standing in front of Grandma Slinkard, and Grandpa Slinkard, Mom, Dad, and Richard.

What suffering my Grandpa went through. Reading through the rest of his life story, it did NOT get
much easier. I owe much to this man and to my Grandma, for giving me my angel Mom.

I don't believe we are just randomly here on earth. If that were the case we would all be here or not be
here, due to good luck or bad luck. So if one young person gets wiped off the earth there goes his or
her entire posterity yet to be born. I know it doesn't work that way. We are all God's children and He
has a unique plan for each of us. I think about this a lot. It makes sense no any other way.

My Grandpa Earl Slinkard age 16

Dennis thinks he looks like my nephew Jake.

I think he looks and stands like my brother John.

Friday, February 10, 2017

What it's like to be 7 1/2

Why sit with the family when you can sit up at the bar by yourself?

The grandparents go outside for 5 minutes 
to get the mail and you break the lamp.

This sort of thing just happens when your brother hits it 3 times 
with the your stuffed animal. 

Or if you're the brother the story goes like this, 
"It was an accident."

Since Grandma Honey sets the table the night before... 
(Grandpa lets her sleep in while he gets them ready and off to school)
Why not take advantage of it and get first choice on your cereal 
while your sister is getting ready for bed. 

You call your Dad and ask him to bring you 4 books from home 
and he brings over 10 and you are SO excited. 

You think you can go to sleep, but when it's dark and you're just 
lying there, you call Grandma Honey back in 
and ask if she will put on Mister Rogers. 

It works like a charm, and has since you were TWO!

You can now get the tub ready without much help

But it doesn't even cross your mind to put your dirty clothes away. 

Or to take your toys with you.

And the next day when one of you has a tummy ache
and stays home from school...

no one can really figure out if it hurts, 
or if you just need a bit more Grandma Honey time.

And just so you know, no the twins don't live here everyday, 
just last week while their Mom needed to go to Florida, 
and one night this week while she was in Idaho. 

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Wonders of the week #8

(In no particular order.)
1. Loving these Tul pens. A friend who was raving about them.
Normally I'm not a fan of gel pens but these dry quickly.
They write smooth and pretty. 

2. I've struggled with cleaning all the tile in this house since we 
moved in. I finally found a good solution! Bissell Power Fresh 
Steam Mop. It uses only water, so NO chemicals involved, and it 
heats up hot and kills 99.9 percent of germs and bacteria. 

It steams out grim or stuck on food. 
Claims to work on all hard floors

It's a very light weight simple machine. $89. from Amazon. And it's quiet so I can listen to music 
while I "work"....but don't expect a work out from it. As long as a person can walk and be upright, 
they can use this with no problem. 

3. Violet got a new pair of glasses!

And have you ever seen such a cute little glass case to go with it?

4. We received a late Christmas gift this week.....

Here's a few close ups.
Laurynn, Macie, Kylie, Téa
Austin, Chandler, Jonas

5. We pass by this business nearly every single day since it's less 
than a mile from our house. We're always left wondering...

It's usually at night when we go by, and the flags are all lit up.
Dennis calls it the United Nations.

But this is their sign.

Just so odd. 

6. I have some advice for you.
Don't lean your back against your fridge while standing in the 
kitchen talking to your husband.....because even if you hear the 
water running behind you, you'll think it's just the ice maker 
filling up...so you won't move while the pocket of your sweater, and 
your shoes fill up with water. Just saying.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Checking in

Please don't give up on me.

I will be back in a few days. My laptop had been acting mildly ill for several weeks. And then about a
week ago it became pretty much non functional. We finally took it into the Apple hospital today
where it was diagnosed with a defective touch pad.

Den and I both felt kind of bad leaving it there. The tech told us it would be ready in 3-5 days. Maybe
he felt sorry for us, I don't know, because then he quickly added, "I'm sure it won't take that long."

Amazing the things we think we can't live without now...

I think it was 20 years ago this month that I learned to use a computer. Bill had set up an AOL
account for us that I knew nothing about until weeks after he died when I discovered paper work in
his desk drawer.

When my good friend Wendy Karsavar learned about this, she insisted on teaching me to use a
computer. She sat right next to me one evening at our large desk top computer, telling me which
button to push and exactly what to do, while I continued to say, "No, I don't want to do this.
This is so boring. There's no point in it!"

"Now just settle down, Jilly-Jill. You need to learn to email. You're going to love this."

"I would never want to write letters on a computer."

 Let's just say I was wrong, and leave it at that.