Sarah Howard

Remember a few weeks ago when I had to do that big Heritage project with/for Harrison? One of the things his teacher wanted was some kind of family artifact.

I don’t know about you but I’m not good at artifacts; what I’m good at is giving things to the Salvation Army. You wouldn’t think it was a problem unless you were married to me and periodically wanted to know things like where that box of 80’s CD’s you had in high school went (I swear, Sweetheart, I didn’t know).

But somewhere along the way someone in my family who is probably related to my father (you don’t even want to know how many rotten tires he’s got out in the barn) realized that some things do, in fact, have value.

Hence our Letters from Sarah.

Recently my father and sister got their hands on about 15 letters written by my Great Great Grandmother Sarah Howard and my GG Grandfather (who’s name I can’t recall and am too lazy to look up) during the Civil War. These letters are kind of awesome.

Sarah and granddaddy moved their family from the East Coast to Missiouri in the 1800’s to settle on a little farm and make a life. Then the Civil War hit and Missouri was a super hot spot. They lived in a teensy one room cabin with eight kids (it had a loft which was way less charming than the ones you see on HGTV), and the only reason they didn’t move out of it into something more comfortable was because Sarah didn’t want the Rebels to think they had pushed them off their land.

I love this woman.

We know a lot about Sarah because of the letters they wrote back and forth with their Pennsylvania family members. Reading about her struggles and worries and life or death moments makes me feel like I’m reading about a relative or something; there are so many strong personality traits that dominate our gene pool.

For example, the war was a scary time but her family was determined to hunker down and hold their ground. One particular day the fighting had surrounded them all day long, cannons and guns close enough to set your teeth on edge as they huddled together in their little piece of shelter. Talk about cabin fever.┬áThe power in my house went off for an hour yesterday afternoon and I found myself microwave/TV free with hungry grumpy children. That was irritating enough, I’m sure adding cannons and half a dozen more kids with nothing to do but poke each other and whittle from dawn till dusk and you’d find one seriously on edge mother.

Finally in the afternoon Sarah looked out the window and saw a group of armed soldiers approaching the house. As they neared the gate my grandmother stormed out the front door, marched right to the edge of her yard, and yelled, “If you boys are Rebels you can just turn around and get on out of here!” Luckilly for her and her pulse they were Union boys.

Frankly, after the kind of day she’d experienced she was probably half hoping someone would just shoot her and put her out of her misery already. There are days when I’d take a group of Rebel soldiers over my rebel children with pleasure.

*This week I got an email from a buddy asking me to check out a new program they’re working on for FamilySearch.org. FamilySearch is kind of the family history buff’s favorite tool, but for those of us who aren’t good at or particularly interested in name hunting it can be overwhelming. On the plus side, FamilySearch is completely free, has always been free, will always be free. Ancestry.com and some of the other impressive family history sites are awesome, but you can only do so much before they want a credit card number.

So FamilySearch recently got smart and is now developing a brand new kind of free family history experience for people like me called Kinfolio. Instead of diving in to collect names, this branch simply starts with you. It’s set up to give you prompts and to recognize and suggest people who might be related to you. But the best part is that it’s not all about the dead guys. From what I understand it’s like a living family history vault (no really, FamilySearch has a big huge granite vault buried in some mountain somewhere that the nukes can’t get to so it will keep all your information safe after 12/2012 when the world ends).

Or if you’re into the dead guys and have some really cool Civil War letters, it gives you a safe place to store or print them for future generations.

They are still in the design phases but are looking for people interested in a place to store and print and save pictures and memorabilia and oh yes, even blogs. I like to think that four generations from now (if December goes well) some GG granddaughter of mine will be able to find my blog on a site like Kinfolio (stored for free, so cool) and see that yes, we are related because she sometimes wants to kick her husband in the knee caps too.

If you’ve got a second and this is at all interesting to you, check them out and punch in your email. Trust me, some day when blogger goes down and the internet crashes we’ll be glad we didn’t put all our eggs in facebook.

*FYI, this is not an advertisement, I just think it’s a really cool idea.

let’s cut my hair

I need a haircut. Scratch that. I need a hairstyle.

I swore the last time I went long, I was sure I’d stay here for at least a decade. It’s been two years, and every time I get near a pair of scissors my fingers start to itch. It’s getting so bad I’m ready to let Junie have a go.

So two weeks ago I was in Costco and ran into a girl from the blogosphere. She’s got the cutest, hippest hair I’ve seen in ages–uber blond with a sassy pink streak to die for. It made my old long layered look feel frumpy, brassy and outdated. Suddenly I knew: I need a haircut. A good haircut. A sassy haircut.

A short haircut.

And there, my friends, lies the problem. My husband supports just about everything I do with my style. Leggings and stiletto’s? Go for it. Bell bottom trousers? Fantastic. Snuggies? Hey, as long as there’s nothing underneath, he’d let me wear just about anything I wanted.

But he loves. Long. Hair.

I first fell into this long style by sheer accident. My hair all fell out when June hit about six months, and by the end of the first year I literally had to wear hats to cover up my scalp. I met a darling hair girl in the grocery store who took pity on me and hooked me up with a reem of extensions that took me from chemo survivor to Dancing with the Stars in six snaps and a teasing comb. It took two years, but I finally hit the point where my hair is thick and lovely and long without any artificial help–and I hate it.

So today I called that cute, sassy girl from Costco (who happens to do hair) and made myself an appointment. Then I got online and started googling styles. After an hour, I think I’ve got a perfect solution that will satisfy me and fool my husband. We’ll see if it works out, I’ve got an appointment tomorrow. Fingers crossed…we’ll post pictures if it’s good.

Fat Ugly Girl

So the other day my girlfriend calls me.

“Hey, I have to go with my husband to a fancy dinner tonight and I have nothing to wear. Got anything?”

Now we all know that I’m all about fancy everything, so I invite her over to raid my closet.

She drops in and I pull out this gorgeous cocktail number that I got on a super deal last winter, complete with matching strappy gold stilettos. She puts it on, opens the door, and my jaw hits the floor.

She looked GO-O-ORGEOUS. Talk about the belle of the ball, she could have gone without a stitch of makeup and hair in an old ponytail and still have stoled the show.

As I’m standing there, gawking at her fantasticness, she does what every woman in her shoes would most likely do: she pinches a non-existent piece of fat, scowls at herself in the mirror, and says, “I don’t know, I might be too hippy for it.”

Why do we do this to ourselves? Because let’s face it, we all do it. It doesn’t matter how smokin’ hot we look in something, one glance in the mirror and all we see is that zit, or a patch of wrinkles, or some otherwise attractive bulge that we like to call “flab”, but that any man would secretly wiggle his eyebrows at.

The saddest part is that when we go out in public, most people don’t look at us and pinch our fat with their eyes, trying to find any and every possible flaw. And when people give a compliment, the initial reaction for most women is shock. Really? You think I look nice? Ugly old me?

We all know I wasn’t about to stand around and listen to that kind of negative self-talk, and anyone with eyes could see that her arguments were spineless. She looked good, and she deserved to feel good. It only took one good, honest look in the mirror before she saw herself for the beauty she is. I think sometimes we forget that we’re hurting our own feelings.

Let me tell it to you straight. You are as beautiful as you think you are. You want to feel better about yourself? Be kind to that girl in the mirror and stop tearing her down. When you catch a glimpse of yourself this week, say something nice, out loud, and squelch those old self-esteem killing comments you usually make. Give yourself a break and show some love.

You deserve it.