I love January! In spite of the cold temperatures (although it was almost 70 degrees yesterday) and the snow that takes FOREVER to melt from the street in front of our house, I am invigorated by the invitation of clean calendar pages and pristine to-do lists. I am excited at the thought of 12 whole months spread out in front of me waiting to be filled with whatever I choose.
I’ve googled, pinterested, instagrammed and facebooked looking for my focus for 2015, and I keep coming back to blogging. This is my journal. This is my family history. This is my love. This is my job! I miss writing and documenting my life. And as I read back through previous posts, loving the memories they invoke, I know that this is what I want to do.
I had a rather rude awakening at Sunday dinner one evening several months ago when Peter commented that he hadn’t heard many of our Middle East experiences. Later conversations with Mark confirmed that we have been very negligent in sharing and recording our family history. How did we let that happen? Every kid deserves to know that his dad was held at machine gun point against a bus, and that his mother gave birth to his brother in a hospital where the bathroom lacked even a fundamental toilet seat!
And so I’m committing to getting back in the blogging groove again. I’ll divide my time between this blog and my family history blogs – Butler family and Berrett family. Even though I haven’t been writing, I’ve continued researching and organizing and gathering stories and pictures that I’m anxious to share.
And since those 12 months are almost now just 11, I’d better get busy!
After celebrating 40 years in fine style with the whole family, including a fabulous dinner, Don and I decided to extend the anniversary celebration just a little longer with a get-a-way to our just about favorite campground. Olive Ridge is a Forest Service campground about 10 miles south of Estes Park that my parents discovered I-don’t-know-how-many years ago. The giant rocks, gravelly road, and mountain trees have been host to Berrett family reunions and family camping trips enough times that when I think of camping, I always think of our little tent trailer parked at Olive Ridge.
Arriving early on a Tuesday afternoon, we had our pick of spots. Don backed the trailer in, we leveled it, put out the slides, and felt like we were home!
We walked through the campground and reminisced about the times we’d been there when our kids were younger.
Our kids played on these rocks many times
Very similar to our tent trailer
We love it here!
It rained and even hailed a couple of times, but we loved hearing the rain on the roof while we played Qwirkle.
We hiked Deer Mountain and biked around Lake Estes.
Twin Sisters peak behind us
The Stanley Hotel across Lake Estes
And every night we had a campfire – because isn’t that what mountain camping is all about?
Just after Don received his Master’s Degree from BYU, we set out on a Middle East adventure by moving to Iran. After three years there, we continued that adventure with seven years in Saudi Arabia before returning to the United States and settling in Greeley. With a child born in each of those countries, and many great experiences involving friends, travels, sights, sounds and smells from that part of the world, we have very fond memories of our time spent there.
So we were delighted when our kids surprised us with an anniversary dinner at Rumi’s House of Kabob right in our very own Greeley. No, it doesn’t look at all middle eastern, but that actually adds to the authenticity of the whole experience. Because why wouldn’t a middle eastern restaurant be housed in an old home on Colorado’s eastern plains?
The kids had reserved a private room upstairs, those windows over the porch, and Nikki and Brittney handled the decorations.
The menu brought back so many memories – nothing is printed to any particular standard in the middle east!
Family style meal we settled on
check out the upside down note about the bread not being gluten free
We started with hummus, which was some of the best we’ve ever eaten. That was followed by a fabulous red lentil soup (recipe, please?) and a traditional salad. When the main course was served, we determined we’d probably ordered way too much food!
Maybe we didn’t each need to order an entree . . .
Rice, lamb, curry, kabob – all delicious
The hummus was delicious
The older grandchildren enjoyed some of the deliciousness
Don and I especially loved the Lamb shank with Kabsa Rice – #3 of the family style choices. The first luscious bite was enough for us to remember that we had eaten that dish at some Saudi weddings we had attended. The smell and taste transported us right back to Dammam. Don was grateful that this time he could eat at the table using a fork instead of on the floor eating with his hand as he had done at the weddings!
Warning – this group shot was done as a panorama and the resulting picture is a little distorted. At least I’m telling myself that it’s the picture . . . But I’m posting it here to remember that we were all together.
After several hours of eating and reminiscing and a very pleasant evening, we remembered that we had the next generation of Butlers who probably needed some parental attention. Those children and the fact that the restaurant had closed moved us reluctantly down the stairs and out the door.
Thanks Mike and Emily, Nate and Nikki, Mark and Kate, Pete and Brittney! It was a fabulous meal, a very fitting celebration and an evening we will always remember. Your thoughtfulness has not gone unnoticed!
About the beginning of the year, Don and I mentioned that for our 40th anniversary in June, all we really wanted was to have all of our family together. Well, the kids took notice, picked a date that worked for all of us, and early in July made their way by land and by air for a proper Butler family gathering.
While the kids were all making travel plans, Don and I worked on the back yard. Knowing our group is large in number – we total 20 now, and the grandkids span a huge number of years – including two one-year-old toddlers and one 17 year old high school senior with a variety of ages in between, we decided that the back yard had to be the attraction. No house is big enough for all those people – especially one that’s only 2300 square feet with no air conditioning!
We hit up the thrift store on half-price Saturday and found a badminton net for $5.00 and 6 racquets for $.50 each. We felt like we’d hit the jackpot!
Butler Family Park begins to take shape
Head groundskeeper tackles the tree trimming
And during the week we spent hours in the back yard.
Lucy making Grandma giggle
Addy considering gymnastics as her sport
Parker loves a swing
Grandma Lynn and some of the grands
On a day trip to the mountains we discovered a great multi-generational hiking spot. The Lily Lake trail, which some of our more experienced hikers were afraid would be just another walk in the park, proved to be easy enough for the littles and interesting enough for the bigs. Definitely a hike we’d do again.
Katie and Lucy
View of Longs Peak from our hike
Other highlights of the week included lots of water, crazy jumping and bouncing, and even a little bit of fire.
What? You don’t have a bounce house in your family room?
Thanks to Mark & Kate for supplying the bouncy fun!
Only one old grill was harmed in the making of these s’mores.
And then they all said good bye and took to the road and the sky once again. And we were left with
which cleaned up very quickly and reminded us of the great week we had spent together.
Thanks, kids, for making it happen. It was a celebration 40 years in the making, and you did it up splendidly!
A huge highlight of the week was the anniversary dinner at an authentic Iranian restaurant.
So memorable for us that it deserves a post of its own.
“Time is the raw material of life. Every day unwraps itself like a gift, bringing us the opportunity to spin a fabric of health, pleasure, and content and to evolve into something better than we are at its beginning. Every passing instant is a juncture of many roads open to our choice. Shall we do this or that? Go this way or that? We cannot stand still. Choosing between alternatives in the use of time is evidence of one of the noblest of God’s gifts – freedom of choice.” – Thomas S. Monson
When we gifted the whole family with matching sweatshirts sporting “GO & DO” down the left sleeve, we talked briefly about making the most of our time and opportunities we encounter. Some in the family are facing new opportunities in employment. Others are making positive inroads in healthy lifestyles. Grandchildren are focused on good friends and schoolwork. And we’re all interested in making the most of our leisure time!
But my reality is that in spite of all that cheerleading, I’ve had a hard time getting into a productive routine since we returned from our Christmas vacation. The January slump has reared its ugly and lethargic head. But no more! The other day when I put on my Butler family “Go & Do” sweatshirt, I thought, “Yeah! Just go and do – get a move on!” After all that was the point of choosing that family theme. . .
And so here I record a portion of my seemingly inexhaustible, but very enticing, to-do list for this new year:
Exciting projects to complete – that headboard I thrifted a couple of years ago is just calling for some chalkboard paint in an awesome color
Childhood memories to record – do you realize that in the 1960s it wasn’t against any law to put down the back seats of the station wagon, spread out some quilts, and line all 6 children up to sleep while driving non-stop from Michigan to Utah?
Skills to learn – just beginning to crack the ins and outs of blog publishing with blurb using Grandpa Lou’s World War II stories
Books to read – I’ve got a list going, but feel free to send me your suggestions of must reads
Responsibilities to fulfill – Primary music time is so much fun with well planned activities and visual aids. I’m compiling an arsenal of resources. Music memory game, anybody?
Family history to share – 10 years worth of letters we wrote while living overseas are still languishing in binders on the bookshelves downstairs
Creativity to embrace – will this be the year I complete even a small quilting project?
* * * * * * *
I’m ready to use my raw material and freedom of choice to create full and happy days.
Every year on February 14, Don surprises me with a hand crafted Valentine. This tradition started in 1973 during our dating years at BYU, and has continued during the last 39 years with very few misses. He writes creative poetry, uses practical objects as symbols for our relationship (think an exercise balance disk to talk about how we balance each other), or leaves a myriad of love notes taped in unexpected places throughout the house.
This year was no different and brought this thoughtful display
which included his genuine observations for a happy marriage.
He writes from experience, and we will be happy forever!
I’ve been thinking a lot about you this week and missing you considerably. I’m sure you’re gloating just a little bit over my feelings of abandonment, because I’m certain that at least once or twice you warned/threatened/tried to guilt me with a statement to this effect: “You’re going to regret not getting involved in my family genealogy with me. Because when I’m gone, you’re going to be left to do it on your own. And you’ll be sorry!” Your threats didn’t move me far enough or fast enough, and you’re right – I do regret it – fearfully so.
Remember all those files that I brought home from Dad several months ago? All those files that harbored your years of genealogy research? All those files that I wasn’t quite sure how to handle? All those files filled with names I only had a passing acquaintance with? Well, I’ve cleaned and organized them several times since bringing them here, and this week I finally started the project of assembling my surname binders for “Compton”. Who knew you had such a treasure trove of family history memorabilia? I am impressed!
I’ve read the letters of research requests you made and marveled at your determination to find information back in the day before the internet. I even found a couple of letters Gram wrote in the 1950s. Oh, how you would have loved ancestry.com! How you would have been thrilled to find so much county record information online.
And I know you would have been as giddy as I was when I found the actual marriage record for Francis and Mary DeVall Compton, scanned and available on the internet, right from the comfort of my own home. (If you’re looking, their names are 4th from the top)
I’ve studied the pictures and seen a lot of history in them. I’m fascinated with the clothes and hairstyles of both the men and women, and I look for family resemblance in an effort to connect to these ancestors that I never knew.
I’ve decided that I take after the Compton side of the family – a little bit like Great-Grandma Iva and a little like her sister Pearl.
But I hope not too much, because their mother, my great-great grandmother Mary DeVall Compton, didn’t age too well. Maybe she was just having a bad hair day!
I wish you were around to answer my questions. Did you know Pearl Compton (Grandma Iva’s sister) worked at a silk factory in Belding, Michigan and lived in a dormitory there? I discovered a memory book of her friends tucked down in a file, and did a little internet research about The Belrockton. I wonder why she never married. And why did her brother LD not have a real name?
And even though you may not know the answers to those questions or a million others that pass through my mind, at least we could have a good laugh together when reading this letter Aunt Nonie sent with the obituary for Willard Parker Ross (haven’t yet figured out who he is):
“Of course you know Ross and Daisy Compton was my Mother’s brother. Maudie was their daughter. Willard & Daisy Ross, Daisy’s mother was Grandma Compton’s sister my aunt Matt. Also Willard was Aunt Matt’s second marriage. Of course we called him Bill. I hope this is clear.”
Are you kidding me?
So, Mom, know that you’ve been vindicated! How I wish I had spent more family history time with you – much, much more. How I wish I had responded to your pleas for help. How I wish I had you as a partner in this fascinating and addicting pursuit. But I’ll carry on, because I love it, and I know you did too.
And even though I probably don’t deserve it, could you drop me a few hints from time to time?