Monday, January 26, 2015

Want to Learn About Great Grandma Tilly? Giveaway today.

In the past 6 months, my husband and I have been able to learn more about our extended families, thanks to some great legwork from relatives of ours (shout out to Aunt Julie and Uncle Robert). I have learned where my nose shape and some of my fiestiness comes from (my grandma) and Jed has learned where his long legs come from (his great great grandpa). It's been so fun to see pictures and learn the stories of those who came before us and how they have impacted our physical traits and personality characteristics. My brother even recently got his DNA tested and it breaks down for him by percentage his ancestral ethnicities. How cool is that?!

So with family history on my mind lately, it made me very happy to be chosen as a 2015 blog ambassadors for RootsTech 2015. Woot! Woot! Let's tell some family stories! So in a couple weeks I will be sharing with you all about RootsTech 2015 and my experience there. I know, you're excited! Me too!!

Enjoy multiple keynote speakers at RootsTech
What it also means is that I have the chance to giveaway a GETTING STARTED 3-DAY PASS (159.00 value) to RootsTech 2015. Now if you haven't heard of this conference before, RootsTech is a global conference held every year in SLC for the purpose of furthering the cause of family storytelling and learning to celebrate family history. Whether you are a seasoned pro at learning about your ancestors or just getting started in this whole thing, this conference is an awesome experience to enlarge your understanding and your resources. 

Specifically this giveaway pass includes:
  •  Over 200 classes for all experience levels with topics ranging from the latest in DNA research to learning storytelling techniques. Click here to view the RootsTech 2015 schedule.
  • Access to the huge expo hall with hundreds of family history and technology exhibitors available to help you with such things as scanning photos, recording stories, building a family tree, and more.
  • General sessions with inspirational and nationally recognized keynote speakers and evening events, including the RootsTech closing social with the cast of Studio C from BYUtv and other popular entertainers to be announced.

So, in order to enter, please leave a comment on the blog or my Facebook page to be entered to win. You can share a trait you gained from an ancestor, a story about your favorite family member, or just your name. I will put all the participants in a drawing and then announce the winner on Friday morning. Feel free to share this opportunity with others. 

For more information about RootsTech 2015 or to buy a ticket for you or someone you love, click here (early bird pricing might still be available).

Thanks for participating. Hope to see you at the conference. It's going to be epic!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Teaching My Kids about The Civil Rights Movement

I love the picture below of Dr. King with his children. I have such a deep respect for him, for his family, for those who followed his vision. This picture reminds me of childhood, its innocence and acceptance. It also reminds me of a line from one of Langston Hughes poems that states: "Where is the Jim Crow section on the merry-go-round?"

Martin Luther King Jr with his son Martin III and daughter Yolanda. Photo:Marvin Koner/Corbis
Over the past couple of months, as I have talked with my kids about the Civil Rights Movement, I have come to realize that while my kids don't get the nuances and complications of slavery and race relations, they do intrinsically get what Langston Hughes meant - that we are all in this together.

At the local elementary book sale about a year ago, we bought the book Henry's Freedom Box about the Underground Railroad. It quickly became my kids' favorite bedtime story.

Henry is raised in slavery but grows up and marries a girl he loves. They have children and their owners allow them to stay together even though they have different masters. One day, while Henry is at work, his wife's master sells her and her children at the slave auction. This breaks Henry's heart and he decides he wants something different. So, with the help of some other people, he ends up mailing himself in a box to North.

You can image the questions my kids had after our first reading of this story. Why could someone sell his family? Did he get to say goodbye? Why did he have to mail himself? What's a slave auction? Did he see his family again?!? Mr R had big crocodile tears when we read that Henry's family was sold. It was heartbreaking! How did people do that to one another?

In addition to Henry, we also found and read about Ruby. We bought the book for a dollar from a teacher friend. This story is about the six-year-old Ruby Bridges (a year older than Miss S) and her integration in 1960 into an all-white school. A judge orders Ruby to attend first grade at William Frantz Elementary. This book talks of her faith, of her being escorted into the school, of the white mobs that didn't want her there. 

Again, my kids had questions after reading this book. We talked about being brave and why that mattered. We talked about why adults would be yelling at this little black girl and withholding their white kids from school just because she was there. We talked about the importance of education and making the most of every opportunity. We talked about prayer (because Ruby prays for those who are yelling at her). Feisty Miss S said she would beat them all up since they were being mean to Ruby. Love that girl. She's young but she gets that people were being unkind to Ruby even if she doesn't understand all the reasons.

And last, but not least, we have talked about Martin Luther King Jr. We talked about his non-violence, of his vision that things could and should be better for African Americans, and of his "I Have a Dream Speech." 

I told my kids, Martin Luther King Jr. did great things because he believed - in himself, in God, in his ability to make a difference. I deeply respect that about him, his family and those that followed him. 

All great things start with a belief - a motivator, an idea, a cause that just will not let you be. As I have studied the lives of people who have made great changes in human history - they always have this characteristic - a belief the deeply motivates them to action. Not getting up from your seat on the bus, walking across the bridge in Selma, marching on Washington DC. They all started from small ideas that together created massive change for good. 

This book, What Do You Do with an Idea? is a good way to talk to your kids about this concept of nurturing good ideas and letting them change the world.  

It's been interesting to talk to my children, give them a context of history and to hear their thoughts and questions. I hope these books give you ideas of ways you can start conversations with your kids.

And today, in honor of what my kids and I have learned, we give a shout-out to all those who dream big, who want to change the world for the better, who fight injustices where they see them, who sacrifice for the greater good and who show us all how to be better and more kind to one another. 

Happy Martin Luther King Jr Day.

Friday, January 16, 2015

You Don't know What You Don't know

Looking back, it's almost embarrassing what I didn't know when Mr. R was born. I remember while I was pregnant, Jed and I went to Las Vegas for a getaway trip. On the drive back, I can vividly feel the weight of the parenting books stacked on my lap. I had thought the drive would be a great time to read them aloud with Jed, so he and I could learn together how to be parents. I opened one, started to read and had to stop. I opened another one, tried to read and had to stop. The tears came in torrents. The open pages whispered failure and I was completely overwhelmed with all that I should know, all that I didn't know. My deepest wells of reserves were engaged in a soul searching process of convincing myself I was worthy of having this child, that I could do right by him...let alone how to crochet new burp cloths for him and the best classical music to play him in the womb.

Needless to say, I didn't read any parenting books. I didn't read any parenting blogs. In fact, I don't even remember talking to Jed about parenting or planning or anything. He worked a ton and later (like many years later) he told me that he was afraid he had broken me. We had gotten married and I was so full of life, energy and plans and now... well, I was nothing like that.

Although he never vocalized his fear to me then, it's silence hung between us, my struggle and his, and the dance we did to try and grow in tandem into this new stage.

I remember walking alone through Babies R Us, at this huge warehouse store, and having no idea which baby carrier was better, which bedsheets, to boppy or not to boppy. Seriously, I needed a guided tour - which sounds ridiculous, but it was true! I guess people have little brothers and sisters for this or extended family or best friends who were already married with babies or someone/ something to help ease this transition. At the time, I didn't have any of that or at least that is how it felt. I guess I shouldn't have laughed at those human development majors in college - karma really is a b*#%!

Sometimes I wish I could go back and redo. Go back more settled. More sure. Do more of the normal 1st time pregnant things. Ask for more help maybe. I think people assume there are people helping you. But I needed to ask for more help.

Perhaps if Grace includes a time to try again, Mr. R and I can revisit and I can do better by him. Maybe Jed and I could have talked more instead of bearing the weight of our fears alone. Maybe that is what I believe is signified by Grace and becoming whole in another life - the chance to do it like you wanted, instead of how it turned out.

So when I learned that I was pregnant with #2...I knew exactly what I was going to do this time.

Ask for help.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Local Flair: Finding Good Places to Eat

Wandering around SLC, or wandering in general, is fun for me. Every moment I can, I like to wander and be curious about places and people. Recently my family and I, with Gma and Gpa Merrill, had the chance to stay downtown for several days and do a bit of wandering. Part of this wandering was trying several local places to eat in SLC. The joke between us was that every hour we would try a different type of food or place to eat; there are so many great options for food downtown. So many places - so little time. Here are just a few of the ones we tried this time around.

For lunch, we found a hipster cafe with a casual vibe and some great food. Located in the Pierpont District of downtown, The Rose Establishment is, in their own words, "a vegan friendly, direct trade, organic, scratch made" kind of place. Right up my alley!
Signage Outside the Rose Establishment
My smooth and flavorful avocado tartine
While their menu isn't extensive at the Rose Establishment, we definitely found a few items that we would go back for again. Jed had the butternut squash soup. It was creamy, perfectly seasoned and silky smooth. I had the smashed avocado tartine on five seed bread with roasted tomatoes. The avocado was rich and velvety contrasted with the rustic bread that had lots of texture but was full of flavor. I loved every flavorful bite. This is a quirky place we would frequent again for a lunch date, a meetup or just an afternoon hangout over a cup of tea and some free wifi.

Next on our stop was around the corner at Bruges Waffles & Frites.  I admit, in full disclosure, that we have an affinity for the owner. When Mr. R was little we used to go to SLC downtown farmers market on Saturday morning. The Bruge Waffle guy was always so kind to our little boy, giving him waffles and making him laugh. His kindness formed a loyalty in us that turned into us frequenting his waffles often. Great marketing plan on his part! Now that he has his own store downtown SLC (on Broadway), we still stop in when we are downtown. Jed loves the french fries and I love the plain vanilla waffles with blueberries or strawberries and cream.
Bruges Waffles and Frites
Jed and Miss S enjoying the Frites
After the frites, we walked next door into Tony Caputo's Market. Always a treasure to taste the samples of meat, cheese and chocolate that are usually displayed. There are usually combinations of foods that I want to try or have heard of but never seen. If you have never been there and you love food - especially Italian food - then you should wander down there and check it out.

Caputo's Downtown SLC

While there, Mr. R was dying for a sandwich, so we stopped into their cafe and ordered a Muffaletta with ham and salami.  We did take the olive salad off of it but other than that, it was great and tasty! It was so pleasant inside that day, we ended up just hanging out and chatting there for a while. Very relaxing and enjoyable.
Enjoying a moment at Caputo's with Jed

Have you been to any of these three eateries? What were your thoughts? What did you order and enjoy?