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Josiah’s Story about the 4th of July & Val’s Arbutus Beach & Cottage Reminiscences

Source: Josiah’s Story about the 4th of July

Hey, my son Josiah shared some of his insights about the 4th of July & celebrating near our family’s Cottage in Gaylord, Michigan.  There are some lively discussions going on in the Comments Section of his original post, so I wanted to link that post here on my page to find it more easily going forward.

There are some beautiful descriptions of Michigan there from people who have visited over the years!  It’s so great to find even visitors to Michigan have been blessed here!

All of what you see below got generated by looking for appropriate images…which led to reminiscing about life & times Up North…Whew, that was fun but also unexpected!

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This is a picture of Otsego Lake, Gaylord, MI at sunset & that is the very dock used by the street where The Cottage is located & this dock is lovingly maintained by a kind year-round neighbor–image found via a Bing.com image search for “Otsego Lake, Michigan”!

 

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Map of Otsego Lake, Michigan from a Bing.com image search

For the 4th of July, Gaylord usually conducts their Fireworks Show from the Otsego County Park shooting the fireworks off over the Lake.  We get a front row seat to this majestic & patriotic display from “our” beach.  Usually the lake fills with boats so that people watch the show from all angles and situations.  After the County show oftentimes there are many neighbors up & down the beach that put on pretty impressive personal displays, even before such elaborate explosives were available in-state.  Some of the regular out of state visitors also packed quite a bang-up version of personal 4th displays!

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This is similar to our fireworks view, from a Bing.com image search for “Gaylord Michigan fireworks”

From this map of Otsego Lake, you can see that the Lake is roughly 5 miles long and about 1 mile wide at its widest, and many generations of the extended family have taken pride in swimming across the lake–including me!  The Cottage is located along the Northern most side of “The Pointe” that is prominent just North of Otsego Lake State Park.  If you would bisect that Pointe the Northern half would constitute Arbutus Beach, originally set up as a Public Beach (so the Lakefront property owners don’t technically own the Beach between their property & the water).  The Southern half of that Pointe, all the way to Old 27 Highway would be Pine Beach, where Uncle Hugh, Aunt Bernice, & their kids Tom & Karen had cottages.  Pine Beach was set up as Private Beach property so that the lake-front people own the Beach down to the water.  The other owners in Pine Beach only have water access at a couple of access points, somewhat like at the end of the roads.  We actually “slept under the stars” on our cousins’ beach a few times, but that was a more regular occurrence during my Dad’s & Aunt Pat’s Endless Summers of Fun!

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This view is looking South, with The Pointe protruding into the water…from earlier times, like my Dad’s childhood; from a Bing.com image search for “otsego lake, gaylord michigan “

Now Arbutus Beach, because of various lawsuits & disputes has become “The Arbutus Beach Association”.  This makes the Beach rather “semi-private”, whereby in order for people from outside the Association to technically have access to the beach, they need to be guests of Association Members.  We lived at The Cottage during the time the whole lawsuit thing was just getting underway.  In fact, I was operating as an Avon Lady, with a territory that encompassed the entire Arbutus & Pine Beach area.  The Lawsuit was a frequent topic of conversation as I made may way through my Avon Territory and I heard many sad stories from residents.  In some cases friends who had known/interfaced with each other for generations were no longer speaking because they were on opposite sides of the (pointless) disputes.  To my knowledge, some of those historically congenial relationships were permanently destroyed through this lawsuit & subsequent legal maneuvering & fallout.  The only “winners” in all of that were the lawyers…

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This is the sign as you enter Arbutus Beach off Old 27, from a Bing.com image search for “Arbutus Beach, Michigan”

Since my Dad & Aunt Pat, and their cousins Tom & Karen, spent their Summers at Otsego Lake, we get plenty of historical insights & nostalgia about the way things used to be up there.  They traveled around with a bunch of similarly aged kids some of whom lived Up North year round and some of whom, like all of them, were Summer Refugees from Detroit, including a gang of kids at the next most northern train stop, WaWaSoo.  They speak fondly of the days when there were fewer docks & boats on the lake, like two pictures above.  There also were many community events that happened around the lake, at least in the Summer time.  There are many ads in the Gaylord Herald Times Newspapers from like a hundred years ago that show the vibrant community life that seemed to revolve around Otsego Lake back in the day (see some links at the very end of this posting)…The below picture is an historical one of the Resort where historically many community events were held, I believe.  This is now a private residence with a huge dwelling erected on the former community-centric site.

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from a Bing.com image search for “Arbutus Beach, Michigan”

 

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My Great Grandparents’ Cottage & one of their rental cottages in the foreground; from a Bing.com image search for “Arbutus Beach, Michigan”

The above picture shows cottages that are on the street set back from the lake and near the top of the hill.  You can just see the lake in the distance in the middle left of this photo, beyond the car.  This appears to be one of the cottages my great grandparents Rowland Edward & Florabelle Mansell Thompson used to rent to others.  The white cottage in the center of the picture was the cottage my great grandparents moved to Arbutus Beach and was apparently the first cottage there.  The story goes that they bought the lumber company’s manager’s cottage/office? from the South West side of Otsego Lake.  It was pulled by horses over rolling logs across the frozen Lake one winter.

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from a Bing.com image search for “horses pull house across frozen lake”

Though I couldn’t find a picture showing horses pulling a house across a frozen lake, the size of the logs in the above picture and to some degree the time frame may be representative of the process of moving my Great-Grandparents’ First Arbutus Beach Cottage across Otsego Lake.  Also, my Dad’s namesake & grandfather, William Ellsworth Stoddard, found his calling working in lumber, first in Northern Michigan and later managing his boss’ lumber yard in Detroit…WES also had a Gaylord cottage as did several of his children, my Grandpa Elzine Munger Stoddard’s siblings.

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from a Bing.com image search for “horses pull building”

I guess if you add the above two pictures together, divide by two, and pull the building over ice it Might Approximate what allegedly happened with my Great-Grandparents’ First Cottage!  At some time I hope to peruse the historical newspapers from that location & era to see if there might be some mention of this momentous event.  It sounds like the kind of local color piece that would have been so interesting to read from that time period.  Alternatively I may try to see if the Gaylord/Otsego County Historical Society has some record of this event–and hopefully pictures to go with the account!  There’s another couple approximations of that event below…though my great-grandparents’ cottage was bigger (or did it only become bigger later???)…However this was accomplished, it was likely a pretty big deal and involved quite a few people & animals…I would have loved to have heard the tale from my Great Grand Father, as he was a notorious Tall Tale Teller!

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from a Bing.com image search for “horses move building”

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from a Bing.com image search for “horses move building winter”

 

After my Great-Grandparents, Rowland & Florabelle Thompson, died one of their Grandsons, Kenny Moore, who lived in Traverse City, owned their original cottage for many years.  He sold it to his mother’s brother, Thurman Thompson, who lived in California and would occasionally return to Michigan to visit his sisters Vivian Beatrice Thompson Stoddard (my grandmother) & Bernice Genevieve Thompson (Tom & Karen’s mother–she married Hugh Orr Thompson so basically retained her maiden name as a married woman).  After Uncle Thurman died one of his daughters, Mary Louise, inherited the cottage & she eventually moved to Michigan to live there year round.

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from a Bing.com image search for “Fairview Cemetery, Gaylord, Michigan”

By the way  all the names mentioned in the above paragraph, excepting Kenny & Mary, are buried in Fairview Cemetery in Gaylord.  My parents recently bought lots in the vicinity of where my Dad’s first cousin Tom was so lately laid to rest.  Though I hope that it is still many, many years before we need to put that land to use, it is a comfort to know that Mom & Dad will be buried so near so many of the relations on my Dad’s side and so close to our beloved Cottage.  We visited Tom’s grave over Memorial Day and it was a beautiful weather day, though of course bitter sweet in our loss…It was also remarkable the high volume of Military Service represented in that Cemetery, for it appeared that close to half of those graves, going back at least to the Civil War, carried American Flags to honor their Service!

 

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from a Bing.com image search for “Arbutus Beach, Michigan”

This above picture is the cottage that lies between our family Cottage and Otsego Lake–you can see the white “sleeping porch” of Our Cottage behind their side entrance roofing.  When I was a child I used to play with the kids who visited there.  When Michael & I lived at The Cottage in ’93 & ’94 our Pastor’s wife’s sister & brother-in-law lived there with their family.  Later it was bought by a Gaylord native who worked & lived downstate.  It recently changed hands and is now a rental cottage for the new owners.

The swing & platform in the above photo was erected by our neighbors across the street to accommodate the matriarch of that clan when she comes to visit from Florida.  When I was a kid my Grandma & I would sit on the immense log that marked the line between grass & beach to watch sunsets & chat, under where the swing & platform now reside.  Virtually every evening my Dad will sit on that swing, with his sister if she’s Up North, or my Mom, myself, or any of the many grand-kids who might be about to see if there will be yet another spectacular sunset display (& I’ve seen many people up & down Arbutus Beach do this too).

The white cottage on the left is owned by a lovely lady who also spent her growing up Summers at The Lake, like my Dad & Aunt did.  She comes up from Ohio and spends a lot of time Up North throughout the year in her retirement.  To the right of the swing (not in the picture) is a small brown cottage that was owned for many years, possibly generations, by one of the families who generated that dreaded & divisive lawsuit.  They were from California and the man’s brother also had a place further North within the Arbutus Beach community.  The little lake-front gem recently changed hands & is now owned by a couple who live further up the street year round, & maintain that dock in the very top photo above.  They turned that little cozy cottage into a rental place & my parents actually rented it one Summer when so many of our clan were Up North for the 4th for extra sleeping & hangout space–it was quite lovely!

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from a Bing.com image search for “Arbutus Beach, Michigan”

It’s possible that the above picture is from the “Arbutus Beach Highlands”, a small residential community just East of Old 27, across from the Arbutus Beach & Pine Beach neighborhoods & entrance.  Several years ago, Josiah & I along with Brandon & Clarissa spent about 3 weeks at the Cottage in Gaylord.  We walked along the wooded trails of the Highlands, to pick some wild blackberries.  During one of our excursions we ran across some Elk foot/hoof prints.  We would regularly also see Deer prints, but not the animals. Another time, August 2013 to be specific, as Josiah was recuperating following his Liver Transplant in July, he & I had an extended Cottage visit.  On that trip I actually saw a small Red Fox along the Train Tracks where you turn into Arbutus Beach–the only time ever in 50+ years of personal excursions there!  There is so much Natural Beauty abounding in the area.  Sometimes it reminds me of my Grandma, who died in the 1970s, to see the various plants & animals, as we used to walk to the Pointe & some of the wooded pathways together & just talk….She used to be a Teacher, loved kids, and shared her love of God’s world directly with me!!!  These are such treasured memories…

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from a Bing.com image search for “Gaylord, Michigan”

Above is an historical image of the Call of the Wild Museum.  This is a dated though fun family outing place, especially on bad weather days.  My husband often takes our kids there to buy yet another cool knife from their well stocked Gift Shop.  There are many trophy animals on display there including quite a few specimens taken by the legendary hunter, Fred Bear.  He was a dear friend & mentor to hunter, rocker, conservative commentator, and “Motor City Mad Man” Ted Nugent.  I believe Ted has connections to Northern Michigan, but I think more so to the Grayling area, about 1/2 hour South of Gaylord, where he obtained a lot of Fred Bear’s property following Fred’s passing.  I also believe that Fred Bear was a very gifted Archer and even has a particular bow named after him.  In our family my husband brought the Bow Hunting tradition to Michigan when we moved Up North as Newly-Weds.  He used to get various bow-hunting magazines then & I believe Michigan had more bow hunters than any other state!

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from a Bing.com image search for “Gaylord, Michigan”

Gaylord is practically perfectly situated for Four Seasons Living, equidistant between the Equator & the North Pole.  It is known to have the highest snowfall in the Lower Peninsula of Michigan.  The last Winter we lived there, 1996-1997,  I believe it had roughly 220 inches of snow!  Even so, they did a great job of maintaining the road conditions so driving wasn’t too hazardous, relatively–except, of course, during white outs!  There is some picture in the family vault showing The Cottage with snow up to the eaves of the roof, similar to the image below!

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from a Bing.com image search for “Gaylord, Michigan winter”

 

Well I’ll leave this meandering trip down Memory Lane with another stunning Otsego Lake Sunset!  In case you can’t tell, I Love The Cottage, Arbutus Beach, and Gaylord, Michigan & am so thankful that my husband Michael & I began our family there!!!  In fact we may have the only Gaylord born relation within the extended clan, in our firstborn, Nathaniel, who was born in Gaylord, and marked on The Wall at just one day old. We gifted him the nickname of Jackpine Savage because of that Northern Michigan birth!  The Wall would be the Door Jambs at The Cottage between the Dining Room & Living Room.  The Inner-Facing Jamb on the Lake side has my Dad’s Generation & spouses.  The Inner-Facing Jamb on the Garage side has My Generation & spouses.  The Dining Room Facing Jamb on the Lake side has My Kid’s Generation.  Finally, the Dining Room Facing Jamb on the Garage side has my first cousin’s grand-kids–as in my generation’s grand-kids & my dad’s great grand-kids, whenever our side adds to that generation.  No one has been marked on that wall immediately after birth except for Nathaniel…& speaking of marking, the Fourth of July is the traditional time to check everyone’s height (including against existing & ancestral markings)…& this year we get to add in our latest family member, Nathaniel’s New Bride, Tara!

All our years are written with love in the very fibers of The Cottage!

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from a Bing.com image search for “Arbutus Beach, Michigan”

PS If you’d like to see a Newspaper article from back when Michael & I and the Boys lived in Gaylord check it out here, on pages 1, 4, & 5:

http://207.74.70.101:8080/docushare/dsweb/Get/Document-6631/1996-11-07%20Thu%20Building%20Familes.pdf

Page 2 of the below newspaper tells of some of the history of Arbutus Beach and speaks so highly of Otsego Lake as a natural beauty filled resort vacation destination–in 1923!

http://207.74.70.101:8080/docushare/dsweb/Get/Document-8848/1923-07-26%20Thu.pdf

The below link goes to the searchable Newspaper Archive for the Otsego County Library!

http://207.74.70.101:8080/docushare/dsweb/HomePage

 

 

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Sharing from 2015, Prayers For Conner

Source: Prayers For Conner

This is an older post but tells of some of the details of a young family experiencing their baby’s heart surgery.  The minutia are different from our experience, yet in many ways the story is the same.  I’m so thankful that other writers share from their hearts their experiences and their perspective.  This “Prayers” posting was written by Conner’s grandmother–and what a loving, godly heart she exhibits…

ConnerJune20174

 

“Added note. To all who were here with us when my grandson Conner had his heart surgery almost two years ago now, who have asked so frequently how he’s doing, I added his picture. Yep, he’s one of the next generation of fearless daredevil boys in the family. His favorite thing is climbing and jumping, which he’s in the process of doing here. Thank you all for remembering him.” 

This update on Connor, and his picture, is from his Grandma’s recent posting (that is also well worth the read) here:

Thank You God, For Men. Real Men.

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Image is from a Bing.com image search for “heal your heart scripture”

It is a blessing to me, and hopefully to you as well, to be reminded of the Lord’s faithfulness in delivering other people out of their challenging circumstances.  I know nothing of this family beyond the two posts referenced here…but I know the Joy of seeing a heart surgery child running, climbing, and in general just being a boy!!!

Blessings,

Valerie

 

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Image is from a Bing.com image search for “heal your heart scripture”

Update June 23, 2017

Please check this post at my son’s new blog for further info about Conner & his family in the Comments Section.  Thanks!

https://josiahsfreakshow.wordpress.com/2017/06/21/josiahs-first-post/

Advice for the Young and Penniless Who Want to Travel. — The Shooting Star

This is all the advice I wish someone had given me when I was sixteen.

via Advice for the Young and Penniless Who Want to Travel. — The Shooting Star

Although the age part is not applicable to me, but rather to my children…the budget part sure does apply.  When I was in High School I was a member of American Field Service (AFS), an international student exchange program and was selected to go on a Summer AFS exchange.  Unfortunately for me there was literally No Place in the Entire World that wanted me…wow.  I did get very close to the International Exchange students at my high school during my senior year, especially Monina & Edgardo from the Philippines, Astrid from Germany, and Veronique from Belgium.  Veronique & I even had fun on an outing in downtown Detroit & Greektown where I got the chance to practice my fairly rudimentary French skills in conversation with her.

I plan to return to the above blog post to check on some of the authoress’s online recommendations…and to share her insights with my more adventurous kids…and perhaps some of their friends.  My husband has done his share of armchair travelling using Google Street View and Google Earth…something I have yet to try but hope to at least apply to genealogical endeavors, as in getting a digital glimpse of an historically significant place…at least from a family history perspective eventually…Blessings, Valerie

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Bing.com image search for “the earth is the Lord’s”

Rooted

Toodling around today at Word Press various other bloggers’ postings have loosely inspired these thoughts on being rooted…At our Memorial Day Weekend trek to/from the family Cottage in Gaylord, Michigan my husband & I collected a number of plants from the property to transplant to our own yard in Metro Detroit.  We actually left a few plants in Gaylord accidentally & they were kindly transported South by my parents later!

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Bing.com image search for “fragrance of life scripture”

Previously we had transplanted a couple of Lilac “bushes” and they are doing really well in our yard.  Those lilacs were individual woody stalks, possibly decades old, that had held on in the harsh climate and poor sandy soil conditions of Northern Michigan and now flourish as expansive bushes in our backyard.  In fact, our newly married son wants to take a transplant from our transplant(s) so that he & his wife can have some familial lilacs in their yard too.  These transplanted lilacs are very special to me because they come from my grandparents’ property and remind me of them, and their love, whenever I look at the bushes or smell that amazing lilac smell.  Also while growing up there were a few lilac bushes outside my bedroom windows and that heady fragrance always takes me back to those carefree days just a bit…

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From a Bing.com image search for lilacs

For years I’ve wanted to get further lilac transplants from my great-grandparents’ property that’s just a few blocks away from The Cottage.  The Cottage flowers are a light purple, aka Lilac!, color, but some of the lilacs from my great-grandma’s garden are white & some of a darker purple, or so I thought.  If we don’t do the lilac gathering during the Memorial Day trip we have to wait another year to confirm the location and/or color of any potential transplants, and this concept minus action has occurred many times.

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from a Bing.com image search for “cottage turret”…this is about the right size as the historical family cottage…

This year we encountered the latest owners of one of my great-grandparents’ cottages, the one with a turret that is near the railroad tracks.  We had a lovely chat with them, were able to view the recently renovated & gorgeous interior of that cottage, and get permission to get some of my great-grandma’s lilacs!  We ended up digging up a couple smallish single stalks from the white bush and they are definitely taking root in our flower beds!

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From a Bing.com image search for lilacs

We also got to see some photos of their cottage as it previously existed as a Texaco gas station.  According to the new owners this little gem of a building, one storey with an interesting octagonal turret, started its life in Detroit.  They showed us a photo of the alleged first cottage owner but he did Not appear to be my great-grandfather (Rowland Edward Thompson).  We shared what tales we could recall about the gas station cottage with my Dad & Aunt (they both spent Every Summer of their respective childhoods at the Gaylord Cottage) to see if the tales lined up with our family lore.  According to my Aunt Pat, Patricia Kay Stoddard Armstrong Ziemba, she was actually there when my great-grandmother, Florabelle Mansell Thompson, negotiated a purchase price and bought the gas station cottage.  Pat swears the gas station was in Gaylord, and she remembers where it had been located and observed it being moved to its present location.  Mysteries here…

 

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From a Bing.com image search for lilacs

Well there weren’t appropriate Dark Purple lilacs at the great-grandparents’ cottage site so we searched further afield.  There had been an amazing bush in a neighborhood flowerbed near where our Gaylord home was located, but we couldn’t find it on this trip.  We did, however, discover an even larger Deep Rich Purple lilac bush near an intersection in town, so we can easily recall its location.  Now we just need to track down the property owner to get permission to dig up a couple of new starts…Can’t wait!

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from a Bing.com search for “myrtle lily-of-the-valley”

We also took several starts of myrtle, lily-of-the-valley, forget-me-nots, and some purple “weeds” that can happily grow in our grass to help fill in a bare patch in our backyard under a spreading maple tree.  There are also some long leaved plants interspersed with some lily-of-the-valley plants to fill in some of the barrenness between our trees between the sidewalk & the street.  Myrtle & Lily-of-the-Valley grow along the house & driveway in my parents’ yard (the home I grew up in) and we had already transplanted some Myrtle to our front flower bed a few years back and it has filled in things beautifully.  These two species seem to spread easily so will need some attention to keep them in check, but honestly I love both of these flowers so much, and they remind me of my childhood home & the Cottage so much that the maintenance is worth it!

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from a Bing.com search for “myrtle lily-of-the-valley”

 

Each of these plants are a tangible representation of the gift of life…a heritage passed down from my great-grandparents to my grandmother and indirectly from both their yards to us.  They also are directly and indirectly from my parents & grandparents and are likely to continue on to my son & his wife.  We’ve received the gifts of physical & mortal life from our forbears and they’ve also blessed us with the heritage of faith–the seeds of eternal life in Christ Jesus.  We’ve passed those gifts on to our children & look forward to them continuing to be passed on to the generations to come…just like so many of the flowering beauties that unify & connect our hearts & all of our earthly properties.

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from a Bing.com image search for “Ephesians 3: 17”

“Touching The Past” & The Old Key

“I hope the drive to discover our family’s past also leads us to share it with close and distant family in order to pay the proper homage to generations past.”

Brass Key fancy

That quote is at the end of this lovely blog post (see below). There is so much richness in what he wrote. What a lovely personal sharing of the meaningfulness of those that have gone before us and the special treasures they have left behind through which we can also connect to them.

This post inspires me to want to go through some of my own inherited treasures, and more particularly through many of the older items that enhance The Cottage ambiance Up North…to capture their stories (as known or speculated) and to record these musings for our present edification and other’s future enlightenment.

One small “treasure” that I hope will pass down to me from my parents some distant future day is a large brass key that my grandparents found beach-combing along the shores of one of the Great Lakes (Erie?). When my dad was young he used to teethe on it.

This key represents mystery to me. It has a tangible connection to my Family of Origin but an unexplored and likely unknowable connection to the past. It very well could even be evidence of some long ago shipwreck. Also, its size suggests that it went to something significant like perhaps a large trunk or even an ancient door. Although its true origins will likely Never be known it’s more recent personal past is quite precious to me.

So now the “To Do List” needs to expand into the cataloging of personal history archival exhibits…What (at least theoretical) Fun!

Blessings,

Valerie

PS  The key image above is similar to my Dad’s key, though his is less ornate…but I really liked how it was presented in the above picture; image from this site–

http://www.bluewillowhouse.com/2015/05/28/ttt-week-38-vintage-finds/

…perhaps because I also appreciate so much of the creatively imaginative Steampunk artistic galaxy…hmm…

Moore Genealogy

Carl with the 172 year old Monty Family Bible. Carl with the 172 year old Monty Family Bible.

On our recent trip to our hometown, my wife and I were very fortunate to be able to see and hold items that once belonged and were used by my wife’s ancestors. But even more fortunate we were to learn some of the stories behind these articles. This experience helped to bring these people from mere dates in the past to real individuals who gave the breath of life to future generations. Much of this was made possible by my wife’s cousin Carl Gonya who before high school took up the mantle of the family historian. His exhaustive research into the family lines started long before the internet made things so much easier but in many cases made for shoddier research. His collection of family artifacts and pictures is impressive and the result of diligent family research.

The 172 years old…

View original post 500 more words

Autism Resource Page Example

Since it is still early days after beginning to write this blog, I am looking around the Web for inspiration in the construction of pages, and to some degree their content.  So, I’ve been looking into blogs written by parents of kids with special needs, among other interests and ran into this seemingly helpful page (without having looked beyond its surface).

The below link leads to a page within the blog written by a mom of 2 kids with Autism & ADHD…so you might imagine why her writing could interest me.

Having an eventual goal of sharing resources that have been helpful to me in the different arenas about which I (plan to) write…this example of links and their organizational structure is both inspiring and potentially relevant.

So, if your life is touched by Autism, may I suggest you jump over to this page below and see if any of the info shared there might be an encouragement to you.  Please let me know if this is helpful to you personally…and which links you most appreciated.  Blessings, Valerie

Special Needs Linkies

Rarity & Comfort

Here’s a snippet from an article from Special Needs Parenting, original is at this link:
http://specialneedsparenting.net/not-as-rare-as-you-think-you-are/I heart someone who is rare 2016

“YOU ARE NOT AS RARE AS YOU THINK YOU ARE!

Raising a child with a chronic illness, disability or special need can often be a bone-achingly isolating existence.  The stares, exclusion, judgment, and hurtful comments can sometimes make caregivers like us feel like we are serving time in a penal colony, far from the comfortable normalcy of the average family. Without realizing it, well-meaning family and friends can push us further to the margins with their suggestions, pointers, and unwelcome recommendations.  (Thank GOD for places like Not Alone!)

Add to this isolation a rare diagnosis, and parents have an entirely different cluster of challenges.  In the United States, a condition is considered “rare” if it affects fewer than 200,000 persons combined in a particular rare disease group.  For those caring for a child who has a diagnosis in this category, the stress only increases as…

  • Getting to that proper diagnosis can often be a huge struggle.
  • Cures are non-existent.
  • Treatments, if there are any, are extremely expensive.
  • Information on the condition can be difficult to find.
  • Practitioners specializing in the diagnosis are only available at major medical centers, if at all.
  • Schools are completely at a loss when it comes to comprehensive understanding of the diagnosis.
  • Pity or confusion from others seems to multiply exponentially when they learn a child has a rare disorder.

This cluster of added challenges can make us feel unenviably rare indeed.  We can buy into the lie that no one in the world understands what we are going through.  Nothing could be further from the truth!

YOU ARE NOT AS RARE AS YOU THINK YOU ARE!

The Old Testament prophet, Elijah, bought into a similar fallacy after he had confronted the prophets of Asherah and Baal.  In 1 Kings 19, Elijah flees for his life, whining to God, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.” (1 Kings 19:10, NIV, emphasis mine)  Later in the conversation, the Lord reveals to Elijah that he is certainly NOT the only prophet left.  He reassures Elijah and directs him how and where to unite with others who share his commitment to the Lord.

God has done nothing less amazing to refute the false, isolating beliefs of families in this day and age.”

Not As Rare As You Think You Are was first posted on February 17, 2016 at 12:00 am.
©2014 “Special Needs Parenting”.

Author Bio:
Barbara Dittrich
Executive Director at Snappin’ Ministries
Mother of 3 children, all of whom have a variety of diagnoses, Barbara is the foundress of Snappin’ Ministries (www.snappin.org) and currently serves as Executive Director. Besides being passionate about sharing the hope of Christ with parents, Barb is active in legislative advocacy, and serves as a partner and ambassador for rare disease.

I don’t actually know about the rarity of the diseases/diagnoses we’ve faced with our son.  When he had the brain tumor the type of tumor he had was rare for a male and for someone his age.  Many of his vascular atypicalities are extremely unique–does that equal rare?  Prior to the Liver Transplant the underlying liver condition, Congenital Absence of the Portal Vein, was a very rare condition.  If memory serves I looked this condition up at the hospital, accessing medical literature via computer not usually accessible to me seemed to show that this condition has only been written up a handful of times, I believe less than 20 times, over many years after having been first discovered during an autopsy in the 1700s.

When my son was an infant and still in the NICU I spent significant time accessing that hospital’s medical library looking for info on his then known conditions.  I couldn’t find material (granted I didn’t ask for assistance and it could be out there) that linked more than a couple of his conditions.

We’ve undergone numerous rounds of genetic testing, including “exome” testing where Josiah’s DNA was compared to immediate family members, in the search for the elusive, yet presumed, genetic syndrome he “has”…All syndromes suspected have been found to be negative.  At special needs events we’ve had conversations with others who have suggested the possible “condition” present, but subsequent testing has said No.  If he Does have a genetic syndrome, it is either so rare or such an atypical presentation of a more common condition that it seems unlikely to ever be identified, or apparently treated…

Whether or not my son’s conditions are “rare” or not…the sheer volume of conditions and the existence of so many issues overlapping and interweaving in his life makes it “seem” rare in totality.  I would Love to Hear from Anyone out there who has dealt with ADHD  AND Autism AND Congenital Heart AND Liver issues (& Transplant) AND Brain Tumor AND Learning Disabilities AND High Blood Pressure AND Sleep Disorders AND Neurological & Sensory Impairments AND Growth Hormone Deficiency AND Hernias AND RSV AND Ear Issues AND Eye Issues AND Depression AND Anxiety AND Obsessive Compulsive Disorder AND Asthma AND Prematurity AND Twinsanity AND IUGR AND you get the idea…

Here is a link to the blog from the group affiliated with the above quoted article, with apparently daily postings from a Christian perspective:
http://www.comfortinthemidstofchaos.com/

I even find the name of their blog comforting, for chaos is something we’ve come to live with, endure, and eventually embrace…it is a way of life for families dealing with Special Needs. I used to think the chaos was more a function of so many kids so close together and the energy & upheaval that accompanies that family composition. When one of my brothers started having a lot of kids I used that word “chaos” in describing family life implying that he might be facing that scenario too. It came across as offensive to him, perhaps his household wasn’t chaotic like ours was…or perhaps his wife kept the chaos enough under control that it didn’t intrude on his personal space the way our chaos intruded on my space…perhaps he didn’t like the nomenclature and found that offensive, or perhaps he had a tad bit of denial of their actual status.

Any way, I hope to partake of the offerings at the above blog on occasion. Being people of Christian faith, yet also facing the Fact of the Chaos that seems ubiquitous with Special Needs living and parenting is an important reality check. Just like an alcoholic will never approach AA nor get help for their alcoholism if they never admit/acknowledge that they Are an alcoholic, so, as a parent facing complex special needs scenarios (both present & historical) it is difficult to receive help for the “chaoticness” of life if one doesn’t first acknowledge that it exists.

Sometimes I have found the “advice” of people of faith to be frustrating in the extreme. Some seem to focus only on the God’s Blessing side of life, virtually supplying a ready-made guilt trip if you are experiencing more of an “in this world you will have tribulation” type of an existence. It’s not that God isn’t meeting your needs or supplying blessings and sustenance in the midst of the storm(s). However pretending that the hard road is really the easy road doesn’t offer much comfort to someone on a seemingly hard road pathway–a journey not necessarily of their choosing nor the result of sinful behavior or bad choices. When we, as believers, Must walk that difficult path (and of course the Lord is the One who supplies All that we need to endure and hopefully overcome) I for one do not receive much/any comfort from others who minimize or disregard the pain, hardship, and suffering that are constant companions for such a trek; in fact I do Plenty of my own minimizing (when Monday’s Doctor said something like “you have been through a lot” I looked at her funny because I really have no frame of reference about all of this and feel guilty for “whining” if I try to offload/explain some of where I “feel” like I am)…

Well, all that to say I have hopes to encounter a measure of comfort and support from the above blog. Perhaps it’s because I’ve been a lifelong reader, but sometimes there can be much gained from the written word of others who have also traveled a challenging path. Years ago I read a Reader’s Digest article about a man who survived a small plane crash in the frozen wilderness and hiked out to get help for the even more severely injured other survivor. This hiker had no appropriate clothing or supplies. He also had a broken ankle. His hardships and perseverance were a great inspiration to me. Having had a sprained ankle a few times and basically crying when a bed sheet touched it I cannot even imagine the level of pain he endured in his quest for survival…

Anyway, speaking from within the current emotional pain of the fallout of further disappointments and systemic “abuses” recently endured, I am hopeful to encounter testimonies via the above blog that will be an encouragement and inspiration.

We are not alone, regardless of what it may “feel” like. The Lord has promised “I will never leave or forsake you” and that is a promise worth clinging to! Especially during those seasons when “chaoticness” overwhelms…