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!
Ser-en-dip-i-ty: noun. The occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way.
Last night while doing some random internet searching for the Carpenter family, I entered the name “James Buchanan Carpenter” into the search bar at ancestry.com. James B. Carpenter is Don’s maternal great-grandfather (Leona’s grandfather) and he lived with Leona’s family when she was a little girl. Using the site as a non-paying guest, I knew that if any possible matches came up I could go to the public library and look at the records. Only the index of records is available to non-subscribers, but it’s a good place to start.
You can imagine my surprise when the first hit was a tiny thumbnail picture labeled “James and Mary Carpenter and family” – WHAT? Somebody else knows these people? And has pictures of them? I could see a young boy in the front of the picture and was quite certain that it was Ream Carpenter, Leona’s father and Don’s grandfather. As I’ve been assembling the Carpenter genealogy binders, I’ve realized that we have almost no pictures of the Carpenter family; if any ever existed, they have been lost or destroyed over the years. And although I get excited about a census or a birth record bearing an ancestor’s name, a photograph truly adds reality to a family history.
I let out a squeal of excitement, and I felt a little like the featured celebrities on “Who Do You Think You Are?” who always find cool things in their research. However, my delight quickly turned into a groan of dismay when I realized that the picture was only available to members. I didn’t want to wait until the library opened Thursday morning, and I wasn’t even sure that the library edition of ancestry would allow me access to family pictures that someone else had posted. Well, it didn’t take me long to decide that I was changing my status from guest to subscriber, and I whipped out my credit card and established a user name and password right then!
Some further clicking around (I have a lot to learn about using ancestry) produced this additional picture of James & Mary Carpenter. She died in 1916, and Leona had never seen a picture of this grandmother. We were thrilled!
A huge thanks goes to a kind soul – who is most likely a distant relative – for sharing pictures. And a huge thanks to ancestry.com for providing the vehicle for this connection. They haven’t paid me a thing for writing this, and I’ll have to continue to pay my subscription, but these two pictures are well worth the money spent!
Watch for further posts over here as I continue this journey.
On our first Valentine’s Day together, before we were even engaged, Don started a tradition that he has continued throughout our marriage. He often presents me with some sort of creative card, carefully thought out and tailored just for me.
The first year after we’d only been dating a few months, he bought a card that looked like this:
But because it would never have been proper to give an innocent BYU coed a card featuring naked people, he “dressed it up” like this:
And then finished the process with the picket fence with our initials carefully carved in the heart shaped handle.
Anticipating the delivery of Don’s birthday TV, and realizing that it would never fit into the old entertainment center, I knew that I had to find some kind of stand for the new Samsung – and fast! Because I had spent plenty on the television itself, I was feeling kind of frugal (actually very cheap), but I knew that laminated pressed board from Wal-Mart was not going to go over well with my consultants (kids and spouses) even though it might fit my budget.
So with Don gone for the day on a Church youth activity, Emily and I set out for the thrift store, hoping the perfect piece would simply present itself. Half price Saturdays at the local Arc are wildly popular with Greeleyites, because let’s face it – 50% off at the thrift store is frugal living at its finest. The store was crowded with bargain hunters, and the checkout lines were long as patient customers waited to purchase jeans, dishes, school clothes – and even lingerie.
But we were two on a mission and (once Emily made peace with the thrift store smell), we made a beeline for the back of the store. Because we weren’t sure what we wanted, we weren’t sure we’d recognize IT when we saw it. Our first look around the furniture department identified a couple of possibilities – not ideal, but worth consideration. But after Emily talked me out of a couple of false positives, and she had gone to check on the kids who were delightedly perusing the toy department, I spotted a piece that I thought had great potential. I couldn’t go find her, because furniture is a hot item on half-price day, and I couldn’t risk somebody else staking a claim on what could be our piece of promise.
Shortly they all returned to check on my progress, and Jack proudly showed me their fabulous find – Don’t Break the Ice” game for $1.00. Emily thoughtfully examined the old dresser I was hovering over, and agreed that it was a great find and would fix up well. And for $25 how wrong could we go?
We decided to go for it, and quickly paid (watching closely that the helpful employee tagged my piece with a SOLD sign), made arrangements to pick it up later and hurried to the car. Emily had just about reached her limit on the Arc ambiance and she passed disinfecting hand wipes all around.
A quick trip in and out of Home Depot yielded sandpaper, primer, black paint and polyurethane finish and we were ready to get to work. Taking confidence from our success with the Great China Hutch Makeover of 2002, Emily and I set up shop in the garage. We sanded, primed, painted and finished and then suggested Don spray paint the drawer pulls – tricky, huh!
About three days and several tall tales later (most of which Don probably didn’t believe, but was too polite to challenge) we finished in time for the paint to be dry before the television arrived.
Now I wonder if I can do a make over on a couch . . .
It’s no secret that Don has dreamed of a flat screen TV for a long time, but in spite of our shopping, pondering, and analyzing we have never actually made the big purchase. About every three months, we go to the store and spend a long time looking at a variety of brands, sizes, features and prices. We compare picture quality and discuss how “it” would look in the family room. And we always go home empty handed. After all – our old 27″ Panasonic does just fine.
Since this year was a milestone birthday for Don, with some encouragement from the kids, we (our kids, his mom, and I) decided to surprise him with a new television. I consulted with my tech savvy children for recommendations on size and brand, and ordered from Costco.com. I’m not certain how truly surprised he really was, as I think he overheard a couple of my “clandestine” phone calls –when will I learn to speak softly? And it didn’t help that Don personally took the call when Costco called here to schedule delivery – did they not get my explicit instructions to call my cell phone and deliver to Peter’s house?
We had a three hour window of opportunity when Don left to take his mom to the airport. Mark and Pete had instructed the delivery guys to load directly into Mark’s car, and as soon as Don left our house, they drove over and we got to work. The worst part was unloading all the stuff from the entertainment center and then hauling that and the old TV to the garage.
While I figured out what to do with everything from the previous set up (does anybody need some VCR tapes?) the boys checked out the system and deemed it AWESOME!
But surprised or not, he loves his new toy! He told me it was the best birthday gift he’s ever had and that he would have been very disappointed if I hadn’t come through with it. Talk about pressure after the fact . . .
And yes, a big flat screen television puts TV watching on a whole new level – we love it!
*Take note of the television stand. It’s my thrift store find dresser after a make over. More on that later.
. . . you buy a squirrel trap to use in your back yard.
Each summer we have noticed an increase in the squirrel population in our back yard, and this year we’ve felt like we’re being taken over by the little rodents. Some afternoons our yard looks like the word got out on the squirrel hot line, “Party at the Butler’s,” and every bushy tailed rodent in the neighborhood has stopped by to play. We’ve got nothing against squirrels, but they are damaging the trees, playing in our garden, AND eating our strawberries – a precious commodity.
Since we don’t have dogs to scare them away, and we don’t have guns to eliminate them, Don found a solution at Home Depot and came home with the Havahart squirrel trap.
Poor little guy got tricked! And he was not happy about that.
Don took him for a ride way out in the north country and set him free.
Do you think he can find his way home?
Have you ever heard of a homing squirrel?
Three trapped – probably 5-7 more to go.
But no squirrel stew around here. We’re not that rednecked!