Sunday, October 24, 2010

Week of October 17 - 23, 2010

(Actually, I should title this the "Week of October 16 - 23" because I will also include information from the previous Saturday.)

On Saturday the 16th, I carpooled over to Hayden, Idaho with several members of the Eastern Washington Genealogical Society to attend the Hayden Family History Center's free Fall Family History Seminar. Donna Potter Phillips and I were both presenting. Her two presentations were in the morning and my two were in the afternoon. I ran the laptop for hers and she ran it for mine; it was good teamwork. I presented, "Finding Your Ancestors' Vital Records Online" and "Accessing Historical Newspapers Online." They served some great soups and salads for lunch. The ride over and back was beautiful, and I enjoyed the stunning autumn colors.

That evening, Missy and Brady dropped by to visit for a short while before they headed out to church. It was good to see them again, and nice to have them living closer to our home.

Sunday, I went over to my brother-in-law's to visit for a bit. He was gone up to Green Bluff with his youngest two daughters, but I visited with his wife and picked up her old bike she was giving me after purchasing a newer one. I don't know if I'll get any riding time in before the bad weather comes. The seat on her bike is much wider than what I'm used to and rather uncomfortable, so maybe Norm can switch out the seat from my old bike.

I didn't have spinning on Monday because my spin instructor was gone to attend her daughter's cross country race. Tuesday, I took some time off work to accompany Matt to his high school to withdraw from his classes there. On Wednesday, he attended his new school program, Contract Based Education (see second page of this brochure). He will meet with a teacher once a week, get his assignments in packets, and work on them at home. We are very blessed that he'll be able to continue with AP American Studies, because one of the teachers in that program taught it last year. Normally, the students at CBE only take basic courses and they are not set up for advanced classes. However, the CBE staff are so willing to work with Matt and know that he is very bright and needs the challenge. He will also take some credit retrieval classes, since he needs to make up a 10th grade Language Arts credit and a 10th grade History credit. Finally, he will continue to take AP Calculus, online. His CBE teacher called me and was concerned that Matt would not have the support he needed if he had difficulty in his calculus class, as she is not certified to teach it. I assured her that we had resources to help Matt if he needed them, including an uncle who teaches high school math up in Deer Park, and a former math teacher of Matt's that is a now colleague of mine at my work location who is always inquiring after Matt.

I already shared how I took Wednesday off work. But I did attend spinning that day as well as on Thursday, and both days had a very good workout. It is amazing what a stress reliever it is. I have now lost 12 pounds since I started really eating right and keeping track of my health on September 1st. I had planned to lose three pounds a month, so I am way ahead of the game and it also gives me room if I plateau again.

Friday I did errands after work. Got my nails done again. I wish I could wait and do them every four weeks, but they get really bad by the end of three weeks, mainly because they grow so fast. Plus, I was going to speak the next day and wanted them to look nice. I also just needed to allow myself to feel pampered. Then I did the grocery shopping. It was after 7 PM before I got home and got everything put away. Matt blessed me so much by offering to make me his famous chicken quesadillas. They are so good, and I enjoyed eating them while sipping a glass of wine and playing Mahjong on Facebook.

The next day, one of the EWGS members picked me up at o'dark thirty to head up to Colville so that I could give my presentations as the featured speaker at the Northeast Washington Genealogical Society's Fall Workshop. We met another member in Loon Lake and continued carpooling up, arriving at 8 AM. It was a good thing I arrived early, as there were some technical glitches with the computer I needed to use there, as well as missing information in the syllabus. Everything was taken care of before I got started, thanks to NeWGS President Karen Struve and her husband Gordy, and NeWGS member Gary Sheehan. My four presentations were: Using RootsWeb to Find and Share Your Ancestors; Finding Vital Records and Obituaries Online; Using County Genealogical Websites; and Finding Volunteer (or Low-Cost) Researchers Online. There were all sorts of cookies and sweet breads served with coffee in the morning and at breaks, and we ate a great lunch with croissant sandwiches, chips, veggies, and fruits. There were over 40 door prizes, so some individuals walked away with more than one, as well as a table full of freebies. I snagged some genealogy magazines that looked like they might have some articles of value for myself. I also enjoyed chatting with some of the 40 attendees during lunch and the breaks. They have an excellent well-attended group and I have always enjoyed speaking there.

The day was very rainy and the ride through the countryside not nearly as lovely as the week before, but still it was nice to get out of town. After I got home, I found that Missy had picked up Charlie (her cat that we have had living at our house for over a year) and brought him to her house, now that she lives in a place that allows pets. Norm was having a hard time with it, as he really enjoyed Charlie. That cat thought he was a dog and would follow Norm every where around outside, curious about each and every project Norm was working on. Missy had invited Matt to hang out for a bit, which is always nice for both of them. I popped a frozen lasagna from Costco into the oven and Norm and I drove over to Idaho so he could get his smokes and we could gas up. Again, it was dreary outside and getting dark, but after my long day, I really didn't have any energy to do anything except sit, anyway. After we got home and ate dinner, I had a glass of wine and we watched some old M*A*S*H episodes on DVD before bed.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

What's Been Happening Lately

Years ago, I went through a difficult time in my life and I turned to writing to help me focus and move forward. The end result was my genealogy blog, AnceStories: The Stories of My Ancestors. I'm proud to say that it has won many awards in both the genealogy and in the blogging world. Lately, life has been throwing me curve balls again and I thought it would be good to do some journaling here on my personal blog for a while to help me through it.

So what are the curve balls? While I can't give all the details, some of the most difficult things lately have included the fact that Norm has been unemployed since the end of May 2009. His unemployment benefits ended a year later, so we've been living solely on my income--essentially a part-time one--for the past six months. We switched from his employer's insurance provider to mine, and although we are grateful it's the same HMO and that we are all still insured, it does cost quite a bit more through my employer. I have had a couple of health issues this year, and we are trying to get Matt's chronic sinusitis taken care of, because it has affected his school attendance so badly. Both of our cars have some major repairs due and we have been limping them along with the hope that they will make it until February, when we should get a fairly decent income tax return.

Needless to say, I've been under a tremendous amount of stress. Today I took a "mental health" day off from work, and my boss--who is also a good friend--offered me the use of her house which is located right on Medical Lake. It was very quiet and serene there, with only the occasional meow of her cat and the honk of the Canada Geese swimming just beyond her backyard. I brought a small bottle of wine, some tea, and my lunch. I spent time crying, napping, taking a hot bath, and doing a lot of thinking. Some ideas came to me while I slept, others while I was pacing the floor, thinking. And again, while I can't share every detail here, I was able to come up with some epiphanies and priorities:

  • There are choices I've made recently because I just gave up on life. In some areas of my life, I felt worthless and felt that there was no future ahead. Today, I chose to believe that there will be some good things waiting for me at the end of this dark tunnel, and that until I reach that place, I choose to be the kind of person that will be worthy of those good things.
  • One of the things I had given up on was really doing my best as a parent. The past three years have been a real struggle as both kids have had poor attendance and poor grades, with Missy barely graduating a year and a half ago...despite the fact that both my children are bright, intelligent people. The daily challenges took a lot out of me, and I didn't want to deal with things anymore. When they were younger and winning awards for their school work, sports, and activities, I never would have guessed we would end up on this path. I felt like a failure as a parent.
  • I decided I really want to be there for my son in the next 20 months before he graduates high school. And instead of fighting him when he makes choices I disagree with or that may be harmful to him, I will try to come alongside him and support him with love and understanding, while standing firm on my parenting principles.
  • Now that my daughter is on her own, I am so proud of many of the choices she has made the past year and a half. She has become a lovely, responsible young woman who is really blossoming. I want to encourage her to continue to grow as an adult, as a woman, and to see her develop in a career that will be fulfilling for her.
  • My health remains a priority, and I will continue to exercise frequently and eat right. The exercise (spinning on a stationary bike) helps to relieve a lot of stress as well as improves my knee. I'm starting to feel better about my body now that I am finally losing weight again, after being stuck in a rut for over a year. Matt's health is also a priority, and hopefully with a visit to his sinus specialist in December, we can make a decision that will improve it.
  • Getting my finances in order is another huge must. I know how much money I have, but I am way behind on entering my receipts into my computer, due to a computer crash that happened a year and a half ago.
  • Enlisting the help of professionals for some of the steps I may need to make in the future is another item on my list. These may include a counselor, an attorney, and of course, my doctors.
  • I plan on going on a retreat every three or four months, just in a quiet place, like a friends' house, or if I can afford it, a cheap hotel room for the weekend to evaluate and assess where these goals are going, to keep me on track, and to just give me a respite. I realized I really don't take time for myself; I tell myself that researching my family tree is my time for myself, but really, I end up blogging about press releases that are sent to me or writing posts that are not quality writing. This makes me feel frustrated and feel like genealogy is a chore, not a fun escape.
I don't at all expect life to get any easier any time soon. But I know that if I can just keep putting one foot in front of the other while keeping my eyes on my goals, that it will help me get through to the other side with my health, my heart, and my dignity intact.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Pumpkin Pancakes

I haven't written on this blog in ages, but I thought I would post a recipe that is one of my favorites. I recently bought a bunch of canned pumpkin at Costco because I love using pumpkin in a variety of dishes and recipes. This morning I woke up craving pumpkin pancakes, although I didn't get to making them until lunchtime. This recipe comes from Washington State University Extension's Nutrition Program (I think). My special needs classroom has several people from the Extension come in once a week to do a cooking class for our students and I believe I got this recipe last year from them.

2 c. flour
3 T. brown sugar
2 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
1 t. allspice
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. ginger
1/2 t. salt
1 1/2 c. milk
1 c. canned pumpkin
1 egg
2 T. oil
2 T. vinegar

Mix the dry ingredients and the moist ingredients separately, then combine and mix well. Batter will be lumpy. Pour by 1/4 cupful onto a heated and greased griddle. Serve with butter or peanut butter and syrup. Especially good with sausage on the side. Makes 4-6 servings.

These pancakes refrigerate very well, and I usually make up extra to eat later in the week.