Thursday, February 28, 2013

Brave Birthday Party Part 1

I love theme parties. I can even go a bit overboard with theme parties like the time I did a Harry Potter birthday party for my cousin that filled an entire gym. (I'll definitely need to do a post about that one soon) but a few weeks ago I did a birthday party for both my kids. They are 2 years and 2 days apart. In fact, it was on Krissy's 2nd birthday that I went into labor with Eli. They did not want to share the day however so he took his merry ole time coming. That was not fun that cold February, especially since I do homebirths and was trying every trick to get the silly boy to come out and contractions out in the snow are not fun.

But I digress (as usual) so on to the party business! We were going to have a party for Krissy, since she is our social butterfly, complete with friends and stuff and then do a small family activity like going to the dinosaur museum type of place for Eli's birthday since he doesn't do well with crowds. However, when Eli found out it was going to be a Brave themed party, he wanted in on the fun. A lot of our friends that have kids have a daughter and a son around the same age as our kids so it actually wasn't that bad of an idea to invite the sibling pairs and just do a combined birthday party. Now our daughter just started kindergarten and she's going to this great charter school called Walden which we really love but since it's a charter school, some of the students come from a great distance - we're talking 39 miles, almost an hour drive! (that's how great of a school it is in my opinion) but due to this, I was rather unsure if some of her school friends would actually be able to make it to our house for the party with the distance factor.

So me being me, I decided to invite the school friends and some other friends we know that live farther away and even more friends that live closer. It wasn't until later that it truly sunk in that if all the children came to the party, including my two that would put oh...17 KIDS IN MY HOUSE!! Still though, I was feeling bad about not inviting other kids we know - I always hate to leave someone out - and I was even afraid to mention it on facebook for fear that someone would assume that meant they could come too and that would give us more kids, or that someones kids would want to come because I do put on a really good party if I do say so myself. But the kids we invited were the ones my kids picked out and I've done parties with almost as many kids before.

I went to use a printable fill in the blank invitation but those things never have enough space to put in everything. So I did my usual and designed one and even printed designs and names on the envelopes.   Then I set to work to figure out what activities to do and decorations to make and all that fun stuff. When the movie came out last year I had gathered a lot of pictures and information because I wanted to make a dress like the queens and we all dressed up to go to the movie. (we're a crazy family like that) Here's a picture from when we went to the movie:

Since it's been a crazy winter we had tons of snow still so I knew we would be inside which put some restrictions on what we could do - for one I knew we couldn't do normal sized bows and arrows and for two I knew we needed to have stuff to do or that many kids in a small place would  be asking for trouble. Thanks to Pinterest, and Google and my own cleverness I was able to come up with a lot of fun things and I think the party went off really well!

A few days before the party I was crazy busy trying to get everything together and then it snowed A TON and I got the crazy idea to shovel our driveway (which was pretty silly since our front yard/driveway faces south and melted a bunch the next day) but we're on a pretty busy street so I didn't want to fuss with a mountain of snow when I tried to pull out. This was a really hard and exhausting task so I was really burning out but the kids wanted to play and I decided I was going to build a snowman with them to relax a bit and not hate the snow.  Since my brain was on Brave with preparations for the party I figured I didn't want to do a boring traditional snoman so instead I did this:
Merida Snowlady!!

You can see the Merida picture I printed off for reference down in the corner

back view - she was kind of a mix between 2D and 3D

Ok, so that's a whole tone of pictures of the Merida snowlady of awesomeness but I can't help it, I'm pretty proud of it. :D The kids helped me make a big mound (it wasn't the best snowman snow so we had to pack it pretty good to get it to stick) and then I sculpted her with a butter knife (don't I rock!?) and I used a spray bottle with some water and food coloring to add the color. Her bow and arrow are some sticks we had in the backyard and her eyes are pieces of pine cone. She turned out better than I thought she would. Sadly it warmed up the next day so she didn't make it to the party but I had a lot of fun making her anyway. The kids had fun whacking the pile that was left because the color had seeped into the middle so it was white on the outside but as they hit it apart with sticks they found the color inside.

I love this action shot showing the snow flying up as Eli hit it

Thankfully due to our hobbies and interest we had a lot of Scottish/Celtic stuff already on hand so in a lot of ways putting the party together wasn't too hard. Part 2 will cover the party in all its glory with amazing decorations, theme food and fun activities - and of course more pictures!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Crazy Sock Collection

Today was Crazy Sock Day at my daughters school. This was great and dandy for us since I own about 3 pairs of "normal" socks. One time I took off my shoes around some friends and one of my friends was saying how she wondered who wore crazy socks like that and now she knew - I'm one of those people. It's gotten such that at Christmas I expect to get socks in my stocking - and my husband knows if he ever wants to get me a gift he can get me socks. So I thought it would be fun to take pictures of all my fun socks (although some must have been in the wash or awol since I couldn't find all of them) and share them!

So here's what my daughter wore today:
(I'm finding the best time to blog is after the kids are in bed so sadly I didn't get a picture of her wearing these) So one super bright neon pink sock with yellow and white stripes and then she wore two socks on the other leg, a blue one with argyle hearts and a polka dot short sock.  The polka dot sock came in a pack of 3 by LittleMissMatched which are sold as 3 different socks so if you loose one (like we always seem to do) you still have 2 and you can mix and match them.
Boy I'm embarrassed at how dirty all my socks are - but I'm pretty notorious for wearing socks around the house without shoes hence why a lot of them get holes like this.
I'm so sad when my socks get holes in them - I've never been very successful in patching them up and it's usually a favorite pair that I've been wearing a lot so it's sad to see them go.

Here's the socks I wore today - a fun Halloween pair with great stripes:
 Speaking of stripes, here's my rainbow socks and following that is my stripe socks

I've worn the pink and blue striped socks to church for easter. I've actually been surprised at how many people notice them and come up and tell me how much they like them.
 Here's some of the valentine socks I have.
 Here's some of the random ones I have - there's another XOXO pair I had missed with the Valentines socks and there's two pair with face-card symbols (used those when I was the Queen of Hearts for Halloween) and I love my red white and blue socks for 4th of July and the black ones on the right that look like laced up ballet shoes. Plus those polka dot ones are fun!
 Christmas socks! The pair on the right are a little hard to see but they have snowmen and snowflakes on them, plus they are my one pair of toe socks - as much as I love socks, I'm not a big fan of toe socks.
 As I was laying out the next socks one of my cats got really excited. To play with him we'll put socks over our hands and wrestle with him (it's gotten to where we put at least two socks on to protect our hands from his sharp teeth and claws) but since we started that when he was a kitten he knows socks mean play time. Thankfully he doesn't ever attack the socks when they're on our feet.
 Halloween socks! Probably my biggest section - remember to include the spider pair I'm wearing today - but all those Nightmare before Christmas ones in the middle are the newest additions I got for Christmas. It's a little hard to see but the ones on the left are spider webs and the ones on the right have candy corn. I also love the ones on the bottom right, they have little black kitty paw prints.
 I also love fuzzy socks - this is one of my fuzzy socks, the bottom one is turned inside out so you can see the fuzziness.
Here's my sock drawer stuffed full of all my crazy socks. With my personality there's times where I want to wear crazy stuff but it doesn't always work out to do so - but I can wear a pair of my crazy socks and most of the time they don't show and no one knows about it but I know I've got a flash of bright color hiding inside my shoes and it helps me feel happy.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Cherokee Quest

To me a Quest is something you work really hard on, putting all your time and thought into it until you've achieved and finished it to the end. So in some ways it wasn't the best word to use as I haven't been able to put all my time and energy into it but the word Quest also brings up images of adventure and excitement, exploring into the unknown, something noble, something great!  One of my Quests deals with family history.  It's intriguing to hear stories and learn about your ancestors and it can really help you to feel like you know who you are and have a sense of who you came from.  It can be really great to learn about the cultures of your ancestors. I knew from when I was really little that my great-grandpa had come to the U.S. from Germany so I always loved to learn about German culture and customs.  I know a lot about my Dad's side of the family, at least more than my Mom's.

It was probably about 10 years ago that I started getting more involved with figuring out my Mom's family history. My Mom's Dad, Lendon Hicks, passed away in 1999. I didn't know him terribly well, we had spent time with him but we had always lived very far away from each other. I had this desire to learn more about him and his family. Little did I know what I was getting myself into - a fun and exciting but also very time consuming and often frustrating um, well - Quest.
My grandpa Len holding me as a wee little baby
 I was in college and took some classes about doing Genealogy and the school had these great resources including, at the time, free access to files. I dived in and often would find out after hours of putting in data that there was a quicker and easier way to do it, hence some of the frustration. Family History is one of those things that can really suck you in, it's a time warp where you can go four hours and you suddenly pull out of it and go, "hey, maybe I should get some food before the day is over." One of the problems with Family History is there isn't a definitive end to it. True you can get to a point going up the family tree where you can't get more information. A friend of mine was doing her family and got to Elly the barmaid, daughter of Elly the barmaid - yep not going to really be able to go past that (although I do believe that was getting back into like the 1600s). But for me I wanted to figure out about siblings and such, not just the one straight line back.  Feeling that way however can make it so Family History becomes this crazy labyrinth and you find yourself going off on this tangent path and winding and twisting all up when you realize you probably have gone a bit far off from your original path so you go back and try to flesh that path out more.

For most people when you're starting off Family History you talk to - well - family. My Mom's family has never been that close though, living far apart and living their own lives. We didn't get together for holidays or have reunions. Right after I got married in 2004, I went with my Mom and sister to Kentucky and it was like this little mini reunion as we visited with her sister and brother who hadn't been all together like that for probably 10 years. (Now mind you, there's 11 or so kids in the family but most of them are half siblings and step siblings to my mom, she has just the two, I guess you'd call them full blooded siblings, but she had a bit of a relationship with some of the other siblings also. I didn't really know there were so many siblings until just recently actually) But I just wasn't all that close to my Mom's relatives so I didn't feel like I could call them up and ask about the family. Plus after Mom's accident I couldn't really go to her for information.

I took what info I did have and just went for the Censuses and government records.  I was really getting the hang of things, how to look stuff up online and gathering all sorts of census stuff - but then I had my daughter and it's not very easy to go to a Genealogy library with a baby.  I realized being a mom of young kids I needed to set aside Family History for another time when I could do it more. This wasn't easy as there was a draw to keep finding more but I had to keep saying to myself that whole idea of there being a time and season to everything.  Yet every now and then something calls be back to it and I'll once again get sucked into it for a time before I set it aside - the Quest calls to me.

Wow, long post and I haven't even once mentioned the whole Cherokee thing. I'm sure someone's going to read a bit into it and wonder why the title is Cherokee Quest.  Well let me get to that right now.  In looking up family stuff on my Mom's side, I had heard that some of the ancestors might be Native American. I thought this was really cool since I've always liked the culture of the Native Americans - I've been drawn to the art, music, etc. and on my bedroom wall is a collection of dreamcatchers, medicine pouches and other such Native American iconographic objects that both my husband and I have collected/made over the years. (My husband doesn't have any Native American ancestors but he got attracted to the Native American culture through Order of the Arrow Boy Scout program) It seemed rational enough for my ancestors to be Native, at least in my eyes my great-grandparents had Native features, but I only had 2 pictures and a newspaper clipping to go off of and I only remember meeting them in person once.
Carlo and Edna Hicks1990
I had heard that my great-grandpa Carlo's mother was Native American but when I found her in the census she was put down as White so I didn't think much more of it. I did keep searching for more history and at one point decided to share all the census and marriage licenses and such on facebook for anyone interested.  I suddenly got friend request from relatives I didn't know and went to look something up online and found this great site that had a lot more information and even some pictures of some of my ancestors! Carlos mother, Minnie Hicks, was in that group with a few pictures and in looking up a little more online I found more pictures of her - once again to me it looked like Native American features.
Minnie Lovins Hicks picture found at

Minnie Hicks picture found at

I added that into my information and posted more on facebook and one of my mothers cousins told me that it's specifially the Cherokee tribe that Minnie is said to belong to as well as some of Edna's ancestors and there's a good chance we are related to the current Principal Chief Michell Hicks of the Eastern Band of Cherokee, but the only connection is the last name Hicks.

Principal Chief Michell Hicks of the Eastern Band of Cherokee
In looking up on my great-grandmother Edna's line, her grandmother Elizabeth Carmack was also said to be Cherokee. One of Edna's nephews put that idea out on a forum and recently I found her father Rev. Jacob Carmack's gravestone was put up and the idea of him being Cherokee was put on a forum also. What I find interesting is the information about Jacob didn't have his daughter Elizabeth so it's more than one source.  Plus, as I've searched for more information about Minnie, I've discovered that "Minnie" is a common Cherokee name (or at least I found a variety of other Minnie's that are proven Cherokee).

In case I've lost you and this is all confusing here's a pedigree outline:
Overview - Lendon is my mom's dad. The surname Hicks, is a Cherokee name, there's a fair amount of Hicks in this list of Cherokees. (There's even more Fields in that list, which may be related to Edna, some of the names in that list match the Fields names I found here but sadly the years don't match.)  The circled people, Minnie, Elizabeth and Jacob, are said to be Cherokee.

So this is my Quest - to discover if there's any possible way to prove that there is Cherokee connections.  This is a LOT easier said than done and for many reasons. One reason is some people hid that they were Native American, as told in this story about a different Minnie (I was really hoping it was the same Minnie as mine but no such luck) that story did have the idea of the people that had Native blood being able to pass themselves off as Black but showing more of their Native look when they were older which I think shows with my Minnie.  There are some books and resources out there - but from the little I've started to look into it's not easy at all. I also had very little knowledge about the Cherokee in general.  So a few days ago when I took my kids to the library I checked out a few books! I found out the Cherokee didn't have a written language until the 1820's! I've also done just a bit more research online and while there are some that feel that even 1 drop of Cherokee blood makes you Cherokee - there are others that don't feel the same way.   (And while it may seem cliché, I've had this song stuck in my head for days!)

Sigh. There are some great websites but to view the information you almost always have to pay a lot of money. And once again there's the whole issue of time, a lot of this takes tons of time which as I said before is not something I have a lot of right now. So I'm not sure how to go about things and if I'll ever be able to fulfill my Quest.  But perhaps posting all this here will help. If you're reading this and want to see more information - the Census and other records, you can check out my facebook album.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Amazing Video Against Bullying

Tons and tons and I mean TONS of my friends on facebook have been sharing this video:

It's a powerful one! The amazing thing with it is it isn't just a great and powerful poem, it's a collaboration, many people put in the various parts and pieces of this video. In the about section of the movie it says, "Dozens of collaborators from around the world helped to bring this piece to life. Learn more about them and the project at" plus the credit section is HUGE! I think it's really cool that so many people came together to create such a great piece of art.

Thankfully I didn't have a lot of issues with bullies growing up. There were a few little things, I was usually the teachers pet for one thing, but nothing like some of the stuff in the video.  My husband had a bad time with them and even experienced being shoved in a locker and a garbage can.  I've been really amazed at how this video has effected my friends - some of them writing great and poignant post on facebook. I have an interesting mix of friends on facebook, they span all over the spectrum, yet many of them had times where they faced feelings of being less than human and unnecessary. I hope that things like this movie and other group efforts to bring awareness and help for those that face bullies will result in a time where there aren't things that hurt people "to this day."

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

My Mom's Accident

I started writing a post and I realized I probably need to explain about my Mom's accident at some point or a lot might be confusing later on. It's a pretty long and sometimes crazy story and there's a lot of other stuff I want to take the time to write but I remembered I had written out a whole bunch of it to share with friends and family on facebook so I looked up the old note and here it is - I wrote it back in 2011 so I'll add a little updated note of where things are at at the end.
Me and My Mom at my wedding 2004

September 23 2005 (the day after my first wedding anniversary, Mom was only 43) my mom was riding a mule up in a canyon and fell off and hit her head on a rock. She was life flighted out and was in a coma.  My sister's wedding was to be in just under a month - we decided to go through with it since we didn't know how long mom would be in a coma.  Mom woke up from her coma in November.  The accident had caused a Traumatic Brain Injury also known as a TBI. The doctors told us she got some blood on her spinal cord and if it had been something like a millimeter to the other side she would have died whereas if it had been the other way nothing bad would have happened.  The whole thing caused or was basically like a stroke, mom can't do much on the left side of her body. 
Me and My Mom Christmas of 2005, just a bit after she woke from her coma

She had to learn how to eat again, swallowing being particularly difficult because they had given her a tracheotomy, this also caused her voice to change and she's had to work on speech therapy.  She went to a couple different nursing homes. Some were nice an others were terrible holes that I wouldn't want anyone to ever have to stay a night in let alone live in.  Then 3 years ago she moved out to Minnesota to go through a program for TBI at the Mayo clinic.  One of the first places she lived in was abusive and didn't give her the proper medication - we had no idea since she was so far away and she never said anything.  Thankfully she was able to get in a different and much better place, Minnesota is at the lead when it comes to having housing for people who have a disability or are unable to care for themselves - it's not just nursing homes.

Krissy has always loved her "Mamă" and loved to help her
This was in 2008, when Krissy was just over 1 year old


Going through that program and working with a lot of other therapy she's improved greatly from the state she was at after the coma.  She's still in a wheelchair for the most part but she can stand up and walk a bit with help. She can not move or use her left arm and hand at all.  A TBI is very difficult in a lot of ways, it effected her memory both short and long term. I didn't realize the extent of this until I made her a scrapbook of her life for a christmas present and she did not remember a majority of the things pictured.  She's very impulsive and can get offended very easily (then you hope it's one of those things she forgets in half an hour and not one of the few things she remembers and recalls over and over)  She hasn't forgotten everything and she has been able to do better with short term memory things but it's a day to day thing and we never know what she will or will not remember. 

We've had her stay with us a few times for holidays and these visits sadly were very terrible and never went well - it was just too difficult having her around constantly and trying to take care of her turned out to be pretty strenuous. The harder thing was her temper as we would get in awful fights and she would say hurtful mean things.  The best visit we ever had was when she stayed at a nursing home and we would go and visit her and we took her up the canyon for a cookout. She was somewhere that she was taken care of and had her own space where she could nap a lot (she gets tired very easily due to the TBI) but we could still see her and do things with her.  It's hard for her to understand and accept that I can't devote all our time and energy to her as I have my own life with a house to take care of and kids to raise - but there are days where she's better about understanding this than others. There are times where it's like she's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde - I can talk to her in the morning and she's happy and things are going fine, later that afternoon she's angry with me and claims she has been all day, then later that evening it's like nothing happened and she's fine and everything's great.  In a lot of ways it's like she has the mindset attitude and disposition of a teenager but she knows she's older. 

So now we come to today and I'm trying to get her moved back out here to Utah. Some of the problems we've run into is she was going to school before her accident, she was just a few months away from graduating. The problem is she had student loans to go to school and they started taking money from her Social Security and so she's behind in rent where she currently lives.  So I'm working at getting that taken care of and finding a place for her to live out here. We have to get her approved somewhere, get her out here and then get her on Utah's Mediade and Medicare - if she's not ale to get on those to pay for her living I'm not sure what we'll do but she should qualify.  It's been a struggle to find a place - I've looked up countless nursing homes, called many and gone to a good number in person.  The majority of them only have people that are 65 and older - she stayed in places like this before and she would make a friend who would die a week later.  The majority of places also have never dealt with someone that has a brain injury and it can be so different than the typical alzheimers and such that we worry they wouldn't want to keep her.  Utah only has nursing homes for someone in mom's position - she  needs 24 hour care in case she falls out of bed or so she can have help with daily living tasks. I wish Utah had some places like Minnesota where there's only 4 people to a house and they are around the same age and get the most up to date care but it has been hard to know what is going on and how she is being taken care of since I'm not there to see. Finally a few days ago I was able to find a place here in Provo that has dealt with those with a brain injury and has residents that are younger and it's not a huge place with over 100 residents.  It's a nice place with therapy cats and it doesn't feel or smell like a hospital.  Hopefully we can get everything worked out for her to move there.

It's true that this whole thing is not easy and there's been a lot of tears and heartache but there's a lot of good to look at too from the fact that she's not still in a coma to the fact that she's been able to see and enjoy her grandkids even if it's not in the traditional way. I'm actually very glad she's moving back because I can make sure she is being taken care of and it will be a lot easier to spend time with her and have her do things with the family.  So that's where things are currently at least that's a brief summary of what's gone on.
When she came back home to Utah April 2011

April 2011
 -Whew, I'm glad I had that written out already, it would have been hard to try and put it all together.  I did get her moved out ok and things went really well. We did have a hard time near the end of 2011 because Mom got a horrible infection that effected her psychologically such that she was not herself and even got to the point where she would barely whisper to talk to you and she was rather lifeless. We didn't know until later that it was all due to the infection, between Christmas and New Years she got cellulitis so she went into the hospital and they gave her some real heavy duty medications that finally cleared everything up and snap, she was back to herself (at least back to how she's been since her accident) but she didn't remember like the past 3-4 months because of it all. She thought we hadn't been to see her for Christmas and I was all "I have video of us singing christmas carols with you." But it's all good. We know now what some of the main warning signs of those infections are and she's been doing a lot better. I'm sure I'll do more post about her - for instance I'll have to share the big 50th birthday party I put together for her last year - but by putting this all together now if I need to mention anything about her accident and such I can put a link back to this post for people to know what's happened.

Love you BIG Mom!!
Mom's 50th Birthday 2012