Monthly Archives: January 2014

President James Knox PolkThey say that children learn what they live, and we all know that is true in many ways. What I find interesting is that when there is a family that has political ties, often they extend way back. Of course, with new people being introduced into the family with marriages and births, things can change, and move away from the ties that had been there before, but often they continue on for generations. That is the case in the Knox family, which is one of the families my husband, Bob comes from. His mom and grandparents were very much not political, but in generations past, there were several presidents in his family, with the one most well known to us being James Knox Polk, who is Bob’s 2nd cousin 5 times removed. I know that is pretty distant, but then, he lived from 1795 to 1849, so it would have to be.

There are also, the presidents who are a little more distant, but still come from the Knox family. Presidents like Andrew Jackson, George HW Bush, and George W Bush. The Princess Dianaconnections are a little harder to find, because they involve the in-laws and their marriages, but they are nevertheless a familial connection. I suppose that if we go far enough back, we will find a president or some royalty in pretty much every family. It stands to reason when you consider the various family connections. As marriages and births occur, and family connections are formed, it becomes more and more a real possibility. For some of us, like Bob’s family’s political ties, and my family’s tie to Princess Diana and the British Royal Family, the connections are well known to us from the time we are children. For others, those connections are not discovered until much later on, and some never know that a connection exists. To me that is sad, because I have thoroughly enjoyed finding out who I am related to…and I have been very surprised too. Both Bob and I are related to Princess Diana and her children, so the birth of Prince George was particularly exciting to me. Even though the royal family is not exactly a political tie in the normal sense of the word, they are still the ruling family in England, and so political in that way.
I suppose that things can come full circle too, from a very political family to one that is not so political, and back to very political again. And in that way, I would certainly be one of the latter…and possibly the most politically inclined member of the current family…at least for the Knox/Schulenberg side. I doubt if anyone would dispute that. I have no intentions of running for political office. I might be considered more of an activist, in that I have very specific ideas of right and wrong, and I certainly don’t mind voicing my opinions on matters, as my friends can fully attest. What can I say, except that it takes all kinds of people to make this world what it is.


18074_1294109120050_430179_nIn a family, you have different personalities. Some people are shy and introverted, and others are not a bit shy and they are very social and outgoing. My niece, Toni falls into the latter category. Not only is Toni outgoing, but she has a wonderful sense of humor. That is probably a really good thing, because a little over a year ago, she married Dave, who can only be classified as a funny man.

On New Years Day, we were gathered at my mom’s house for her birthday party, and Toni was telling us that Dave had started a New Year’s Resolution List…for Toni!! I laughed about that, and asked her how that was working out for her. Of course, the whole thing was a joke, and every time some new thing would come up, Dave would add a new resolution, and Toni would laugh it off and basically wish him good luck, if he ever expected to see that change made. Of course, the changes he was suggesting were silly things like “never argue with your husband” or “don’t be so talkative” or “if you have to whine, pour it from a bottle”. Of course, the actual resolutions could be different, because I don’t recall just exactly what they were, but it was pretty funny.

It was all in good clean fun, and of course, Dave never expected to have her change anything. It’s just typical of the kind of jokes that go on in their house. I got such a kick out of it though. In fact, I told Toni that she needs to start Dave’s New Year’s Resolution list, after all, turn about is fair play. And if I know Toni, she will figure out a way to get even with Dave, but then 180697_1773301939571_3975539_nhe would be disappointed if she didn’t. They have the kind of relationship that is filled with lots of funny and humorous times.

All kidding aside, Toni is a sweet person who loves to laugh, and that can never be a bad thing. And she doesn’t mind laughing at herself either. I read on Facebook today, “If you can’t laugh at yourself, I’ll do it for you!” I can see that being the attitude both Toni and Dave have about each other. They just don’t take a joke personally. They are good friends, and that is what makes it work. Today is Toni’s birthday. Happy birthday Toni!! Have a great day!! We love you…just the way you are. No New Year’s Resolutions needed…hahahaha!!

Princess KateEvery so often in the royal family, someone enters the royal scene, who single handedly manages to breathe new life into an otherwise stale lineage that has been filled with people who have been in the family so long that they possess little or no…well, zing!! Kate Middleton is this generation’s breath of fresh air. Don’t get me wrong, because I very much like Prince William and Prince Harry, and I feel that both of them have gone a long way toward making the British Royal Family popular and accessible to a large degree, but they were, nevertheless caught up in the humdrum, and even a little bit tired, feel that the Royal Family has exhibited in recent years. Kate on the other hand, has a smile that lights up the room when she appears. She is vibrant and full of life, and she is not shy or afraid of the camera, so she has captured our imaginations and our hearts for a while now. From the time they started dating, we hoped that she would be the one Prince William would choose, because when they were together, he changed into a vibrant, smiling Royal Coupleman too. She had that affect on him, and I’m sure that feeling of being alive again was the main reason Prince William could look no further for his bride. Yes, he was concerned for her emotional wellbeing, after the terrible time his mother had as a member of the Royal family, and so he gave her some space, but they could not stay apart, and the British Monarchy is far better because of their marriage.

Now that their little family has grown with the addition of precious little Prince George, there is even more life being breathed into the family. While we haven’t been treated to a lot of pictures of Prince George yet, it is hard to get that cute little face out of your memory. He is such a handsome little man, and I am so happy for the royal couple. While I don’t expect it to be very long before we find out that another royal baby is on the way, for now, we will just have to wait patiently for more views of the current royal little one.
The new little family edited
I think the main reason Princess Kate was able to bring about such a royal transformation is that she was not raised in all the stuffiness of the British Hierarchy, but rather was a commoner, and so the best choice to bring a much needed change. She may be a commoner, but it is in standing only, because she has style and flair, beauty and brains, and definitely grace. She is in every way…a princess. I think the Queen would do very well to pass up Charles in favor of Prince William and his bride, Kate for King and Queen of England…and that is my opinion on the matter. Today is my cousin, Princess Kate’s birthday!! Happy birthday Princess Kate!! Have a wonderful day!! We love you!!

The Lunch PailWhen my girls were little, they rode the bus to school, and of course, ate their lunch at school too. As a kid, we only lived 5 blocks from school, and since Mom didn’t work then, we went home for lunch. In days gone by, the kids walked into town to school. There was not time for them to come home for lunch…only the town kids could do that. You wouldn’t think that these situations have much in common, but the thing they do have in common is the lunch container…so to speak. When my girls were little, their first lunch box was the Strawberry Shortcake lunchbox. They loved it. And every year after that, they got a new lunchbox, because as we all know, a first grader can’t have a Strawberry Shortcake lunchbox. That is totally not cool. By the first grade you would need something cool, like Care Bears or My Little Pony. The right lunch box made that first day of school, and the wrong one, ruined it. Ok, maybe it wasn’t quite that serious, but we all Strawberry Shrtcake Lunchboxknow that for a kid, very specific things mattered in school.

Things were a little different in the old west, as well as in the early 1900’s. Fancy lunchboxes didn’t exist. Instead of a lunchbox, the children took their lunch to school in a lunch pail, and it was really a small pail. I remember watching the Little House on the Prairie shows and seeing the girls bringing their lunch to school. It seemed so primitive…like taking their lunch in the same container they might just as easily have played in the sand with. I don’t know if they purchased the pail for the purpose of taking their lunch to school in, or if the pail was purchased with something else in it, and then used for lunches when it was empty, or just how it came to be a lunch pail. Who thought of that idea? Was it someone, who like me, tries to find a use for things that just look like they are too good to throw away, and maybe something could be made from them? In researching this thought, I found that often the Lunch Pail 2children would try to create a lunch pail out of the containers that biscuit mix came in, so I guess that kids have always wanted a fancy lunch box.

From what I read, the lunch box used to be a kind of low status symbol too…at least in the working world. The worker who carried his lunch was viewed as someone who could not afford a hot lunch at a restaurant. Thankfully that isn’t the way it is view now, because I know a lot of people who bring their lunch to work. For most of us these days, it is more a way to eat healthy, and avoid the fast food places. So in that way, I guess the status symbol has taken on a whole new meaning.

Siara HarmanMy grand niece, Siara took the first semester off, from her studies at college, to work two jobs and save up her money for the second semester. Now she will be heading back to school in January to continue her studies I the area of nutrition. This might be a tough semester, because she has to take a lot of math and chemistry…not her favorite subjects, but necessary for the work Siara wants to do when she finishes college. It never really occurred to me that a degree in the area of nutrition would require those subjects, but I guess I am still thinking along the lines of the food groups and things like that. Today’s nutritionists know much more than that, and so she will be studying math and chemistry. This was a bit of a surprise to me because I never thought of Siara as the math and chemistry type, so I guess she fooled me there.

Nutrition is a big field, with a lot of more specific specialties that graduates can go into. Siara wants to go specifically into Diabetic Nutrition. Since my mother-in-law is a diabetic, I can attest to the fact that nutritional help in this area is vital. So many diabetics eat foods that are terribly wrong for them. Of course, like most of us, knowing that the food you are eating and changing how you eat, are two very different things. I don’t know exactly what a nutritionist could do about that, but maybe they could help the patient find ways to make the food they need to eat seem less distasteful. I think it would be a noble effort for any nutritionist. Adult Onset Diabetes is one of the few diseases that can often be completely controlled by diet, and yet very few patients actually manage to control it that way. I have to wonder if a nutritional plan that was more interesting would help that patient stick to it. I don’t know what things 1524910_10153611453845720_319889340_naSiara will be focusing on in her career choice, but I do know that her work will help a lot of people, and to me that is a lofty goal.

Of course, all work and no play would definitely make Siara a dull girl, and we can’t have that, because there is nothing dull about Siara. She has an active social life, with a large group of friends, and one special guy that she has been dating since November. Time will tell us where that will go, but I can say that any guy who has the honor of dating Siara is a blessed man indeed, because she is one of the sweetest and yet goofiest people I know. Today is Siara’s birthday. Happy birthday Siara!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

644145_3798924059182_1321134008_naMy grand nephew, Ethan Hadlock is in his second year of preschool, and is excited to be moving on to Kindergarten next year. Like most kids at this age, Ethan likes school, probably because it makes him feel grown up. I have seen such a change in him since he started school. He is no longer the toddler he was, but is maturing into a big boy, who knows a little bit about the big wide world that exists beyond the confines of his home. It is a rite of passage that all kids go through at this age, and it is a cool thing to watch.
 Ethan has a little sister, named Rory. Rory is a force to be reckoned with, and Ethan has a tender heart. All too often in these situations, Rory ends up bullying Ethan, and like lots of brothers, he won’t fight back physically against this weaker sex child he lives with. Oh don’t get me wrong, Ethan is not constantly bullied by Rory, but she does know that she has the power to do so, and it is an efficient weapon when she decides to use it. And Ethan does have his limits, and when those are reached…well, their mom, Chelsea just wants to lock herself in the bathroom for a Calgon moment.

1452177_10201070762718781_1879900030_nEthan is very much into Ninja Turtles right now, and like most boys his age, he fancies himself a super hero. Not a bad plan. I think the world needs more heroes anyway. His family recently moved into a bigger house, allowing Ethan to finally have his own room…a very special thing for him. His room is decorated with another super hero…Captain America bedding and cars pictures, typical of most boys, but his DVD player belongs to the Ninja Turtles.

Ethan got to go hunting with his dad, Ryan, and is getting a BB gun for his birthday, so he and his dad with be going out to teach him safety and how to shoot his new gun. He is very much into doing things with his dad. He broke his arm a while back, and he gets the cast off the day after his birthday, which will be perfect for learning how to operate that new gun. Today is Ethan’s 5th birthday. Happy birthday Ethan!! Have a super hero kind of day!! We love you!!

Mom SchulenbergMost of us have watched the movie Groundhog’s Day before, and thought that it was a funny show, and it was…at least for a while. Then, it got to the point where you, like the character in the show, thought this was ridiculous. You already know what is going to happen, because it has happened over and over again. For most of us, this scenario would be a serious annoyance, but for my mother-in-law, this is her life…and she isn’t bothered by it at all…nor am I. I suppose that because most people think of Alzheimer’s Disease only in it’s negative aspects, they think that the loss of recent memory is the most horrible thing that could happen to a person, and in the area of new additions to a family, that is true to a degree, but while it is sad that this grandmother will never really remember the new in-laws that arrive from the marriages of her children or grandchildren, nor will she ever know her new grandchildren, and yes…that is very sad for us…but she will never feel that sadness. Nor will she ever feel the sadness of loss, and that is a good thing in my mind.

Most of us go through many times of loss and sadness during our lifetime, but those with Alzheimer’s Disease don’t. We can think of Alzheimer’s Disease as a horrible end of things, and since I have never seen the very end of the disease, I can’t say that it doesn’t end horribly, but between the beginning and the end of it, there can be some very funny times. Things like not wanting to go to bed until someone comes to tell them if they won a prize or not, and then when they are told that the awards ceremony is the next night, they go to bed without question. It all depends on what things they were interested in before. My mother-in-law liked the thought of winning the Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes, so that was the illusion her mind came up with, and that was my answer to it.

I am thankful that her life was filled with good things, so that her memories are sweet and not scary, because I also think that Alzheimer’s Disease can be very torturous for those who have memories of sad or scary times…like being lost for instance. I would hate to think of that kind of a memory being the kind that was running through my mother-in-law’s head, and sadly I have seen people with the disease who live with that memory over and over again. Nothing can be done, but to comfort their worried mind…over and over again. I can only feel bad for them and for their families.

From what I have seen of Alzheimer’s Disease, every action taken by the patient has more logic to it than people know. While the person who is asking for help over and over before asking someone to let them in, has probably been locked out of the house at night before, the person, like my mother-in-law, might pour her drink into her plate, because pureed food looks like oatmeal to her. She is also known to play with a blanket or napkin or nothing at all, and yet she is doing something very specific. If you know her like I do, you realize that she is working of an afghan or a potholder or a dishcloth, because for years she made those things, and she thinks she still is. I guess, when you think about it, all they really need is someone to understand that they are stuck in a time loop.

Theresa Halcyone DavisWhen a mother dies young, the family is left to try to put the pieces back together, even though a very important piece of the family will now be forever missing. Theresa Halcyone “Halcy” Davis Freese was a young mother with so much to live for, when she passed away at only 40 years of age. Halcy left a loving husband, Louis Emery Freese, and four children, Vera, who was 14, Buford, who was 10, Myrtle, who was 8, and Florence who was only 4 1/2.  It was a lot for a dad, who was going through his own horrible grief, to handle. For Louis, trying to care for his children and still make a living, became almost too much. Thankfully, he had the help of his mother-in-law, Theresa Elizabeth Spencer Davis, to help them all through the pain of loss, and care for the children, when their dad couldn’t, either because of work, or just the deep sadness of losing his beloved Halcy. The children’s aunts and uncles, Halcy’s sisters and brothers helped out too,and they all showed such kindness to the children, that it became something the children would never forget.

Their Uncle Luther, who was courting Lena Timpte at the time, took the children to the Timpte’s bakery to visit Lena. Later the children would spend a lot of time at Luther and Lena’s farm, and they lovingly pointed out that Lena made the best candy!! They would also go to visit their Uncle Reuben and Aunt Maggie, who lived on the “Creek Place”. That was a great place to visit because they could go swimming in the creek. Clifford and Josephine had the farm in the center. There was always an aluminum pitcher on the table full of milk, which is a real treat for “town kids”, and they remarked that “no one can fry potatoes like Aunt Josephine!” Aunt Cassie was always so sweet, and she kept her girls long hair in beautiful curls. She also had a music box they could wind up and listen to…you could see the inner workings too, which was an added bonus. Aunt Ruth took the children on their vacations for years, and made them clothes. She also did so many other things for them over the years that they became too numerous to mention, but were never forgotten.

As these dear aunts and uncles passed away, one by one, Florence, who was Halcy’s youngest daughter, and the author of this portion of Uncle Bill’s Family History, felt the heaviness of loss that she could not feel as a little girl of only 4 1/2 years, when her mother passed away. While she loved her mother very much, these aunts and uncles had stepped in to make her life a happy one in spite of loss, and for that she could never thank them enough.

The Last DanceAs our parents get older, and less able to do the same things they used to when they were younger, and we come to expect less and less of them, and sadly sometimes we include them less in things. It’s not because they don’t want to be included, because they do, but because we don’t think they can do things anymore. As the new year approached, many people were at parties, and many of their parents were at home. Of those that included their parents, and were at a place where they could dance, I have to wonder how many made sure that their parents got to dance. Sometimes, it is harder to pull that off, and all too often the kids just don’t think about it. Still, when that forgotten dancer gets the chance to dance again, it lifts their spirit so much. I got to see that exact thing happen last year at my mom’s New Years Eve party, when her new grandson, by marriage, Jason Sawdon took Mom out on the dance floor and they danced.

Since my Dad’s passing, we had not thought about getting Mom out on the dance floor. Since her knee injury, she has used a walker, and it would have been very difficult for her to dance. Nevertheless, Jason would have none of that. He got Mom, his new grandmother, out on the dance floor and filled in for our dad for that special New Years dance that Mom and Dad always shared. It was such a precious moment, and I don’t think there was a dry eye in the place. It occurred to me that we had inadvertently left Mom out of part of the festivities, leaving her…a forgotten dancer. It wasn’t that we intended to do that, but more that we didn’t think about it. Dad had always had their special dance with her, and he had gone home.

I think that it’s easy to look at that situation and accept that a part of someone’s life might be Jason dancing with Mom 1-1-13over, when you are very close to that situation. We girls, being daughters and therefore not thinking like a man might think that was the case, and even the sons-in-law and grandsons who were there at the time of my Dad’s passing, could not see what Mom might need. We had watched with tears in our eyes, as they danced what turned out to be their last dance, because we were so grateful that they had the opportunity again. When Dad was gone on the next New Year’s Day, we thought her dance days were over. What Jason saw was a different need, and maybe Jessi gave him the idea…I don’t know, and I have not asked, because our forgotten dancer got to dance again, and that was all that mattered.

1016238_10151463666716886_1885049447_nMy nephew, Allen is his Grandpa Spencer’s namesake. He was named Allen Spencer Beach, so that our dad’s name would be carried on for another generation, in the only way that a family of daughters could give him a namesake. While his name tied him to his grandpa, he also followed his dad’s lead, and joined the navy. Now he is a Corpsman. He has spent time at Bethesda Naval Hospital, and he is currently stationed in Yokosuka-shi, Kanagawa, Japan, at the Yokosuka Naval Base. He went to Japan in September of 2012, and has a little less than a year left in the Navy, and while he has enjoyed Japan, and feels like it has been a great opportunity, he is nevertheless ready to come back to the United States. His time in Japan has not been a lonely time however, because he met a lovely girl there named Gabby. She is also in the Navy and is a Corpsman, so they have a lot in common. They have been dating for about a year now, so we will see where that leads. Gabby is from Oregon, so where Allen will end up could be tied to how that relationship goes, but Allen has pretty much decided to go to college when his time in the Navy is done. When his mom, my sister, Caryl and her husband, Mike visited Allen in Japan in August, he and Gabby showed them all the sights, navigating the train system there like experts, even though everything was written in Japanese.

Allen is very much into photography, and has taken some amazing photographs. He has a real eye for it…one that few people possess. I particularly like the one he took of himself walking away from the camera, and holding another camera. I really wish I had saved that one, because it would have been a great one to use here. I think Allen could go into photography as an occupation, perhaps as a journalistic photographer, if that was what he decided to do.

But, Allen’s interests lie in a different direction right now, and oddly enough, that is similar to 374658_10151343109406886_1009690453_nyet another relative in the family…Louis Emery Freese. While they are not blood relatives, because Louis married into our family, they share an interest in making instruments, like the guitar and violin. Louis imported his wood from Germany to make the violins he made. Crafting instruments is a wonderful skill to have, and not only would it be profitable, but it would be very rewarding too. Those instruments are beautiful works of art. The craftsman who has the skill to make those instruments has a great skill indeed. Allen says that would be his dream occupation. I hope he is able to realize that dream. Today is Allen’s birthday. Happy birthday Allen!! Have a wonderful day!! We love you!!

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