Heart of a Southern Woman

A snapshot of life one blog post at a time.


“On the Tweflth Day of Christmas my True Love Gave to Me, Twelve Drummers Drumming…”

On the twelfth Day of Christmas my true love gave to me, twelve drummers drumming–or…maybe you could say…twelve percussionists percussing! –or your daughter playing twelve percussion instruments, including drums!  I told you we had a lively household when our girls were growing up! They sang, played several instruments each, and danced with abandon!  Our house was always filled with music, and we were blessed with it! “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord”, comes to mind! 

Today, January 6, is Epiphany! We honor today as the day the three kings found the Christ child! What a wonderful day to be full  of music! And what a day, to look back over this Christmas and its twelve days, and even  over a lifetime! Today I’m thinking about my older daughter Ali, the one who just this month had a baby, her third! We talked about Annie her younger sister dancing, but Ali was the percussionist! (Annie did play violin, cello, and alto saxophone, thank you God for their talents! )

Ali Holshouser, 16, playing percussion for Enloe High School Wind Ensemble, 1990

By high school, Ali had been playing piano for 7 years. She knew her music well, and had been playing bells (xylophone), and marching bells in the marching band for a couple of years! By sixteen, she could play marimba, of course all the drums, snare, tympani, base, blocks, chimes, triangle, –I’m sure there must have been at least 12 instruments at times! We would watch her perform in concerts both at Enloe High School here in Raleigh, NC,  and later at North Carolina State University, where she played in 3 bands and sang in 5 choral groups! LOL You could see the percussionists moving around behind the other musicians…but only us parents perhaps knew just how hard they were working…concentrating…sweating bullets to add to , not to detract from , the beautiful music! We learned a lot and enjoyed a lot! I had no idea the talents she had, and the first time I heard her play “The Flight of the Bumblebee” in concert…well, someone had to shut my mouth as it was hanging open in amazement!

Because Ali loved percussion so…she introduced us to things like drumming  circles…and the musical “Stomp!” We would never have understood this rhythm of life, this heartbeat of our souls, if we hadn’t had this player of twelve percussion instruments! Thank you Lord above for the multitude of gifts that you gave both of our daughters– talents you gave them which brought joy to us, and to many—and continue to do so!  May they praise you in Jesus’s Christ’s name.

This blog itself , this Christmas blog has been a blessing to me especially this year as I was not well, and unable to get out of the house to join in worship and celebrations. By thinking about other blessings in my life, I have been cheered. All of you who have commented here, by phone, and on facebook have warmed my heart, and brought me joy. Thank you my friends and family, you are the best and I love you dearly, Helen


“On the Eleventh Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…eleven pipers piping…”

Here in Raleigh, North Carolina, USA, we have been blessed with a special group of pipers—bagpipers—for 45 years! I am talking about the North Carolina State University Pipes and Drums! What a group! I have seen and heard them perform many times over the years, in fact, they performed at my daughter’s wedding reception due to her husband’s Scottish ancestry which means so much to him. My daughter Ali is friends with some members of the group, and one of my friends, and my husband’s, a friend of thirty years has played with this group for many, many years! So on this eleventh day of Christmas, as we think about the amazing talent and joy shared with us by these pipers, I wanted to tell you more about them and our friend Pete Currie.

 Pete Currie

Pete and his wife Pam, and Max and I met as we strolled our children, age 2, through the same neighborhood in Raleigh! I kid you not, that’s how we met…strolling our babies…both named Annie by the way! As our children grew, we became close friends, going to the same church as well. Pete had this special talent which we were always thrilled to have the chance to witness! He played the bagpipes! I had never known a piper personally—and a nicer man, better person,  you could never meet! I learned that Pete was actually born in Scotland, near Edinburgh! Even though he is an engineer by profession, I believe he was born to pipe!  NCSU Pipes and Drums


To this day, I remember the very first time I heard Pete play—it was at a Sunday morning worship service at our church’s family camp, in 1984! Max and I were actually in charge of the programs for the weekend long camp that year, and we had asked Pete to play, not realizing just what an extraordinary experience we had in store for our family and our whole congregation! We worshiped beside a large lake, early on a foggy, cool August Sunday morning (cool in NC August, a gift itself!) As soon as the quiet fell, Pete started to play…from far behind us….up on a rolling green hill! It inspired me then as the memory does now! He played “Amazing Grace” , and I clearly remember how the sound of the pipes rolled down that hill , surrounded and wound right through the group of us, then drifted out onto the water….it was a magical moment! It was one of those shared experiences that brings a group closer, inspires worship, and makes friendships stronger for the memory! This was Peter Currie the piper, the friend, the husband, the father, the professional engineer, and good person.  We count his friendship a blessing.  

NCSU PIpes and Drums, 3 performing at the Highland Games

Pete plays with the NCSU Pipes and Drums as an alumnus . They perform at the Highland Games on Grandfather Mountain in North Carolina every summer. Just this week they led the parade for the “First Night” celebration in Raleigh, NC. If you’d like to know more about this incredible group, support them or attend their performances you can find out more on their fan page on facebook or on their webpage at http://pipesanddrums.ncsu.edu/  

 Eleven pipers piping…will always bring our friend Pete to mind, and this incredible group of pipers and drummers with the North Carolina State University Pipes and Drums!

 We only have one more of the twelve days of Christmas to share this season, 2013-2014, but Epiphany, Twelfth Night , Kings Day…celebrating our beliefs and our friendships is always important! Thank you for strolling through these special days and memories with me, Helen


“On the Tenth Day of Christmas, My True Love Gave to Me…Ten Lords a Leaping…”

Ten Lords Leaping

Oooh…ten gorgeous, smart and talented, aristocratic,  Lords, leaping and running…brings to mind the Irish Riverdance group! Or the Bolshoi ballet, or my grandson–so proud of his running and leaping ability! “Did you see me GiGi…did you see how far I can leap!” as he sails over another mud puddle! His folks would be so proud! LOL All these thoughts run through my mind as I prepare to continue my Christmas posts inspired by The Twelve Days of Christmas. But, of course, genealogy is always at the top of my mind these days…and Lords, Lairds…I know we have more than  ten in our family tree—and I’d like to share some of their stories with you! I must tell you however, that regardless of the song, Lord is not really an official title of the English peerage! This statement from Wikipedia helps explain: “Lord is used as a generic term to denote members of the peerage. Five ranks of peer exist in the United Kingdom, in descending order these are dukemarquessearlviscount, and baron (Wikipedia, “Lord”).” I do not care, I am so happy to present some of the Lords in my family tree to whose stories I am doing the leaping!

  1. Douglas Moncrief, Laird with crownJoy of joy, this past year I met a real live “Lord” or “Laird” with the genuine title! He is Laird Douglas Moncrieff of Glencoe! More importantly, he is one of the nicest, smartest, most talented genealogists I know! Talk about serendipity, or fate, and the life affirming pleasure of doing this genealogical research—he is not a new cousin, but he has become a friend, and a person who has volunteered his expertise to help a group of our family try to trace our Hogue family back through its origins in Scotland! We have a mystery in that line, and it will certainly take great effort it appears, to find the true line, but if anyone can help us find it, Laird of Glencoe, Douglas Moncrieff is our man! There is so much I am learning from Laird Moncrieff, who goes by Douglas by the way, and I am so impressed by him, that I want to tell you more about him in an in-depth post, unless he forbids it after this! LOL  Douglas lives in Scotland, is married with two sons and two grandchildren. This first Laird that I have leaped back to is a very special man, so honored to know you Douglas, to call you friend, and I thank you every day for your help!

In chronological order, not the same family line from our family tree:


Neville, Ralph, 1st Earl of Westmoreland

Lord Ralph Neville, 1st Earl Westmoreland

Your 17th great grandfather
Birth 1364 in Raby Castle, Durham, England
Death 24 Oct 1425 in Raby, Durham, England

Bio from “The Peerage”

“Earl Ralph De Neville 1st of Westmorland

Sir Ralph de Neville, 1st Earl of Westmorland was born circa 1364 at Raby Castle, Durham, County Durham, England. He was the son of Sir John de Neville, 3rd Baron Neville and Maud de Percy. He married by contract, firstly, Lady Margaretde Stafford, daughter of Hugh de Stafford, 2nd Earl of Stafford and PhilippaBeauchamp, before 1370.2 He married Lady Margaret de Stafford, daughter of Hugh de Stafford, 2nd Earl of Stafford and Philippa Beauchamp, circa 1382 in a Stafford, Staffordshire, England marriage.4 He married, secondly, Lady Joan deBeaufort, daughter of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster and Katherine Roët, before 29 November 1396 at Château de Beaufort, Meuse-et-Loire, Anjou, France. He died on 21 October 1425 at Raby Castle, Durham, County Durham, England. He was buried at Staindrop, County Durham, England. He was buried in October 1425 at Staindrop, County Durham, England. His will (dated 18 October 1424) was probated. In 1380 he took part in the Earl of Buckingham’s expedition to Brittany. He was invested as a Knight in July 1380. He held the office of Joint Keeper of the castle and city of Carlisle on 26 October 1385. He held the office of Joint Warden of the West Marches towards Scotland on 27 March 1386. He succeeded to the title of4th Lord Neville, of Raby [E., 1295] on 17 October 1388. He held the office of Joint Surveyor of the Fortifications in the Marches on 25 October 1388. He held the office of Joint Warden of the West Marches towards Scotland in 1389. He held the office of Keeper of the Forests beyond the Trent between 1389 and 1425. He was Chief Commissioner to perform the duties of the Constable of England in 1391. He held the office of Keeper of Wark Castle between February 1396/97 and September 1398.8 He held the office of Constable of the Tower of London between 21 September 1397 and 30 October 1397. He gained the title of 1st Earl of Westmorland [England] on 29 September 1397, for loyalty to King Richard II when the later struck back at the Lords Appellant who in 1387 had engineered convictions for treason against King Richard’s friends. He held the office of Guardian of the truce in the East March on 28 November 1398. He held the office of Marshal of England between 1399 and 1413. In July 1399 when he sided with his brother-in-law, the banished Duke of Hereford, against King Richard II, after the Duke (later King Henry IV) returned to England. He was invested as a Privy Counsellor (P.C.) before 4 December 1399. He was Commissioner to treat with the Romans for the marriage of Princess Blanche on 13 February 1400/1. He held the office of Keeper of Roxburghe Castle between March 1401/2 and 1408. He was invested as a Knight, Order of the Garter (K.G.) circa 1403.2 He held the office of Warden of Berwick and the Eastern March in 1403. He held the office of Warden of Carlisle and the Western March between 1403 and 1414. On 29 May 1405 at Shipton Moor, Yorkshire, England, he intercepted the rebellious Archbishop Scrope and the young Lord Mowbray, where, after a friendly conference, he arrested them in an unscrupulous manner. He was a member of the Council of Regency in 1415, during King Henry V’s absence abroad. He was a member of the Council of Regency in 1422, during the minority of King Henry VI.      He was survived by most of his 23 children! He was a great church builder, ‘curious flat headed windows being peculiar to the churches on the Nevill manors’. When he died, he left money to complete the College of Staindrop which he founded near Raby, and was buried at Staindrop, where his alabaster effigy in armour between his two wives ‘remains the finest sepulchral monument in the north of England.
Children of Sir Ralph de Neville, 1st Earl of Westmorland and Lady Margaret deStafford

  • Lady Maud Neville d. Oct 143810
  • Lady Philippe Neville+ d. bt 8 Jul 1453 – 5 Jan 145810
  • Lady Elizabeth Neville 10
  • Lady Margaret Neville+ d. bt 4 Mar 1464 – 3 Mar 146510
  • Lady Anastasia Neville 10
  • Lady Anne de Neville 11
  • Lady Alice Neville+ b. c 138410
  • John de Neville, Lord Neville+ b. b 1387, d. b 20 May 142012
  • Sir Ralph de Neville, 2nd Earl of Westmoreland+ b. c 1392, d. 25 Feb 145810

Children of Sir Ralph de Neville, 1st Earl of Westmorland and Lady Joan deBeaufort

  • John Neville 13
  • Sir Edward Neville, 1st Lord Abergavenny+ d. 18 Oct 14765
  • Sir William de Neville, 1st and last Earl of Kent+ d. 9 Jan 1462/635
  • George Neville, 1st Lord Latimer+ d. 30 Dec 14695
  • Cuthbert de Neville 5
  • Thomas de Neville 5
  • Henry de Neville 5
  • Joan Neville 5
  • Lady Anne Neville+ d. 20 Sep 148014
  • Lady Katherine Neville+ b. c 1397, d. a 14835
  • Lady Eleanor de Neville+ b. c 1397, d. 147214
  • Sir Richard de Neville, 5th Earl of Salisbury+ b. 1400, d. 31 Dec 146010
  • Robert de Neville b. c 1404, d. 8 Jul 1457 or 9 Jul 14575
  • Lady Cecily Neville+ b. 3 May 1415, d. 31 May 149513

  1. [S6] G.E. Cokayne; with Vicary Gibbs, H.A. Doubleday, Geoffrey H. White, Duncan Warrand and Lord Howard de Walden, editors, The Complete Peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain and the United Kingdom, Extant, Extinct or Dormant, new ed., 13 volumes in 14 (1910-1959; reprint in 6 volumes, Gloucester, U.K.: Alan Sutton Publishing, 2000), volume XII/2, page 908. Hereinafter cited as The Complete Peerage.
  2. [S8] Charles Mosley, editor, Burke’s Peerage and Baronetage, 106th edition, 2 volumes (Crans, Switzerland: Burke’s Peerage (Genealogical Books) Ltd, 1999), volume 1, page 14. Hereinafter cited as Burke’s Peerage and Baronetage, 106th edition.
  3. [S6] Cokayne, and others, The Complete Peerage, volume XII/2, page 544.
  4. [S125] Richard Glanville-Brown, online , Richard Glanville-Brown (RR 2, Milton, Ontario, Canada), downloaded 17 August 2005.
  5. [S11] Alison Weir, Britain’s Royal Family: A Complete Genealogy (London, U.K.: The Bodley Head, 1999), page 108. Hereinafter cited as Britain’s Royal Family.
  6. [S6] Cokayne, and others, The Complete Peerage, volume XII/2, page 547.
  7. [S8] Charles Mosley, Burke’s Peerage and Baronetage, 106th edition, volume 1, page 14, says 1384.
  8. [S6] Cokayne, and others, The Complete Peerage, volume XII/2, page 545.
  9. [S6] Cokayne, and others, The Complete Peerage, volume XII/2, page 546.
  10. [S8] Charles Mosley, Burke’s Peerage and Baronetage, 106th edition, volume 1, page 15.
  11. [S6] Cokayne, and others, The Complete Peerage, volume I, page 152.
  12. [S6] Cokayne, and others, The Complete Peerage, volume IX, page 504.
  13. [S8] Charles Mosley, Burke’s Peerage and Baronetage, 106th edition, volume 1, page 17.
  14. [S11] Alison Weir, Britain’s Royal Family, page 109.”



Thomas Montague, Knight, 4th Earl of Salisbury, England

3. Lord Thomas Montagu, Knight, and 4th Earl of Salisbury

Your 17th great-grandfather

Birth 1388 in Salisbury, Wiltshire, England

Death 3 Nov 1428 in Orléans, Loiret, Centre, France

 “Sir Thomas Montacute and his wife Eleanor Holland (Wrythe Garter Book) Thomas Montacute, 4th Earl of Salisbury6th and 3rd Baron Montacute5th Baron Monthermer, and Count of Perche, KG (13 June 1388 – 3 November 1428) was an English nobleman. He was one of the most important English commanders during the Hundred Years’ War. He was the eldest son of John Montacute, 3rd Earl of Salisbury and Maud Francis, who was killed while plotting against the King in 1400, and his lands forfeited. Thomas did get back some of his father’s lost lands, and helped his financial position further by marrying Eleanor Holland, a sister and eventual co-heiress of Edmund Holland, 4th Earl of Kent, and daughter of Thomas Holland, 2nd Earl of Kent. Thomas was summoned to Parliament as Earl of Salisbury in 1409, although he was not formally invested as earl until 1421. In 1414, he was made a Knight of the Garter. In July 1415, he was one of the seven peers who tried Richard, Earl of Cambridge on charges of conspiring against the King. Montacute then joined Henry V in France, where he fought at the Siege of Harfleur and at the Battle of Agincourt. Montacute fought in various other campaigns in France in the following years. In 1419, he was appointed lieutenant-general of Normandy, and then created Count of Perche, part of Henry V’s policy of creating Norman titles for his noblemen. He spent most of the rest of his life as a soldier in France, leading troops in the various skirmishes and sieges that were central to that part of the Hundred Years’ War. In 1425, he took over the city of Le Mans. On 27 October 1428 he was wounded during the Siege of Orléans, when a cannonball broke a window near to where he stood, and he died a few days later. He married twice, first (as mentioned above) to Eleanor Holland, and second to Alice Chaucer, daughter of Thomas Chaucer and granddaughter of Geoffrey Chaucer. They lived at Bisham Manor in Berkshire. His only legitimate child was a daughter from the first marriage, Alice, who married Richard Neville. Neville succeeded his father-in-law jure uxoris by his wife Alice.”


  • Hunt, William (1894). “Thomas de Montacute or Montagu, fourth Earl of Salisbury”. Dictionary of National Biography 38: 208–211.
  • the Peerage.com on Thomas Montagu, 4th Earl of Salisbury
  • Cawley, Charles, Medieval Lands Project on Thomas de Montagu, Foundation for Medieval Genealogy, http://fmg.ac/Projects/MedLands/ENGLISH%20NOBILITY%20MEDIEVAL1.htm#Thomas Montagu Salisbury died 1428 , retrieved August 2012,[ better source needed]

External links

  • Hundred Years War: Thomas Montacute, 4th Earl of Salisbury (1388–1428)
  • Royal Berkshire History: Thomas Montacute, Earl of Salisbury (1388–1428)
  • (From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)



4.     Luxembourg, House of, coat of arms Lord Pierre De Luxembourg

Your 16th great grandfather

Birth 1390 in Luxembourg

Death 31 Aug 1433 in Rambures, Somme, Picardie, France

“Peter of Luxembourg (1390 – 31 August 1433) was a son of John of Luxembourg, Lord of Beauvoir, and his wife Marguerite of Enghien. His inheritance included the counties of BrienneConversano and Saint-Pol

Peter had succeeded his father, John of Luxembourg, Lord of Beauvoir, and mother, Marguerite of Enghien. They had co-reigned as Count and Countess of Brienne from 1394 to her death in 1397.

John was a fourth-generation descendant of Waleran I of Luxembourg, Lord of Ligny, second son of Henry V of Luxembourg and Margaret of Bar. This cadet line of the House of Luxembourg reigned in Ligny-en-Barrois. This made Peter a distant cousin to John of Luxembourg, father of Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor, and Bonne, Duchess of Normandy and Aquitaine.

Peter was a sixth-generation descendant of John II, Duke of Brittany, and his wife Beatrice of England, through their daughter, Marie.[1]

Beatrice was a daughter of Henry III of England and his wife Eleanor of Provence.

Henry was son of John of England and his second wife Isabella of Angoulême.


Peter succeeded his aunt Jeanne of Luxembourg, Countess of Saint-Pol and Ligny, as Count of Saint-Pol in 1430. His younger brother John II of Luxembourg, Count of Ligny, an ally of the English during the Hundred Years War, received Joan of Arc as his prisoner, and subsequently sold her to the English, for 10,000 livres.

On 8 May 1405, Peter married Margaret de Baux (a descendant of the Baron of Lisarea Gilbert d’Escors[2][3][4]), daughter of Francesco del Balzo’s third wife Sueva Orsini, a relation of Clarice Orsini (wife of Lorenzo de’ Medici). Peter and Margaret had nine children:[5]


The 14th and 15th centuries were well known for the Black Death, a deadly form of bubonic plague that eventually spread across the known world. Europe was badly hit by the pestilence, as a result of trading with countries with the plague; it soon grew to epidemic proportions, and would kill swiftly, and without discrimination as to gender, age or class. The plague had hit LuxembourgFranceEngland and Spain in the 1340s when it caused the deaths of millions of people; and it continued to re-appear at intervals over the succeeding centuries. Peter was among its victims. He died at Rambures on 31 August 1433, aged 43 years, and was buried in the abbey at Cercamp, near Frévent.[6] His wife died 36 years later.


  1.  Ancestors of Pierre de Luxembourg
  2.  L’Achaïe féodale: étude sur le moyen âge en Grèce (1205-1456). Diane de Guldencrone , Diane Gabrielle Victoire Marie Clémence Gobineau Guldencrone. Published in 1886 by E. Leroux. Book Collection from the University of Michigan. Free download: http://archive.org/details/lachaefodaletud00guldgoog/
  3. Libro de los fechos et conquistas del principado de la Morea. 1885. Juan Fernández de Heredia, Alfred Morel -Fatio. Imprimerie Jules -Guillaume Fick.
  4.  The Chronicle of Morea. A History in political verse, relating the establishment of feudalism in Greece by the Franks in the thirteenth century. 1904. John Schmitt, PhD. Methuen & CO. 36 Essex Street, W.C. London.
  5.  Charles Cawley, Medieval Lands, Champagne Nobility, Seigneurs de Ligny, de Roussy, et de La Roche, Comtes de Ligny
  6.  Anselme de Sainte-MarieHonoré Caille du FournyAnge de Sainte-RosalieSimplicien (1728), Histoire généalogique et chronologique de la maison royale de France, 3rd ed. Vol. 3, p. 726 (French)”
  7. -from Wikipedia


Stanley, Sir Thomas, 1435

5.Lord Thomas Stanley

Your 15th great grandfather
Birth 1435 in Lathom, Lancashire, England
Death 29 Jul 1504 in Lathom, Lancashire, England
“Thomas Stanley, 1st Earl of Derby, KG (1435 – July 29, 1504), was King of the Isle of Man and an English nobleman and stepfather to King Henry VII of England.He was the son of Thomas Stanley, 1st Baron Stanley and Joan Goushill, daughter of Sir Robert Goushill and Elizabeth FitzAlan, daughter of Richard Fitzalan, 11th Earl of Arundel. After the death of his father in 1459 Stanley inherited his titles, including that of King of the Isle of Man and Baron Stanley. Stanley owned what is now Tatton Park in Cheshire. Stanley remained in favour with successive kings throughout the Wars of the Roses until his death in 1504. His marriage to Eleanor, sister of Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, did him no harm, even after Warwick was toppled from power, and he took his second wife Margaret Beaufort, whose son, Henry Tudor, was the leading Lancastrian claimant to the throne.Thomas Stanley is also suspected for the death of the Princes in the Tower but this is unproven. [citation needed]King Richard III of England unwisely continued to trust Thomas Stanley and his brother, William, even after he had briefly imprisoned Thomas in 1483 on suspicion of conspiracy. At the Battle of Bosworth Field, the Stanleys betrayed him, coming in on the side of the Lancastrians at a crucial moment. Thomas is alleged to have retrieved Richard’s lost crown from the battlefield and placed it on the head of his own stepson. In recognition, Henry created him Earl of Derby on October 27, 1485, and his fortunes continued to flourish. His brother, William, made the mistake of supporting the pretender Perkin Warbeck, and was executed for treason in 1495.Descendants of Thomas Stanley and Eleanor (or Alainor) Neville included George Stanley, Edward Stanley, and James Stanley, all of whom were also descended from the same Beauforts and John of Gaunt as the step-son who became King Henry.”–unknown source
Knight on a Horse
6. Lord William Cary:
Your 15th great grandfather Birth 12 Aug 1437 in Devon, England Death 6 May 1471 in  Battle ofTewkesbury, Gloucestershire, England
“Sir William Cary was born on 12 August 1437.3 He was the son of Sir Philip Cary and Christiana Orchard.2
 He married, firstly, Elizabeth Powlett, daughter of Sir William Powlett.1
 He married, secondly, Alice Fulford, daughter of Sir BaldwinFulford.3
 He died on 6 May 1471 at age 33, beheaded after the Battle of Tewkesbury.3
He lived at Cockington, Devon, England.3
Children of Sir William Cary and Alice Fulford Thomas Cary+3 d. c 21 Jun 1536
Mary Cary3
Child of Sir William Cary and Elizabeth Powlett
  • Robert Cary+2 b. 1457, d. 15 Jun 1540



Fairfax,Lord William Fairfax

7.     Lord William Fairfax

Your 11th great grandfather

Birth 1504 in Steeton, Yorkshire, England
Death 31 Oct 1557 in Steeton, Yorkshire, England
A romantic story… “William Fairfax, Sir, d. 31 Oct 1558, Steeton, England, m. 1518, Isabel Thwaits, b. 1497, England, (daughter of John Thomas and Emota (Middleton) Thwaits, Esq.). William was High Sheriff of the County of Yorkshire 1535 & 1540. He joined the Pilgrimage of Grace, 1536, but appears to have been pardoned for his share in that outbreak. He acquired the Manors of Bolton Percy and Nun Appleton in 1542 and Bilbrough in 1546. He was buried at Bolton Percy Church. Isabel was of Denton, Askwith, and Bishop Hill and Davy Hill, York. She was made an heiress by her brother, John Thwaits. Her mother was daughter and heir of Nicholas Middleton. Isabel was the ward of the abbess of Nun Appleton.
The story of the romance of Sir William and Isabel Thwaits was printed in the Baltimore Sun on 15 Jan 1903 and reads as follows:
A romance equal to the Scottish ballad of Young Lochinvar twines about his marriage. The young Sir William Fairfax loved and was loved in return by Isabel Thwaits, a beautiful Yorkshire heiress, who was guarded like a rare flower within the walls of a Cisterclan nunnery, on the River Wharge. She was under the care of the Abbess, Anna Langton. The abbess was not slow to perceive the blossoming of love’s springtime between her ward and the gallant young knight. Hence she prohibited all meetings between the pair, and the young suitor, finding supplication, diplomacy and even commands from those in high authority unavailing, stormed the nunnery in warlike fashion, captured the willing lady of his heart, carried her off in triumph to Bolton Percy Church, and without loss of time or speech with her abbess guardian made her his wife. Since all the world loves a lover the Ainsty region rang with rejoicings over the match, and Isabel Fairfax and her gallant knight lived happily ever after. Through his wife, William acquired Denton Castle and through her descendants the nunnery where she was confined was wrestled from the abbess, and Nun-Appleton, built upon its sight was afterward the home of Thomas Fairfax, 3rd baron, whose daughter’s wooing was less tempestuous, but whose married life as Duchess of Buckingham was full of sorrow. The hot head himself, Sir William Fairfax was less patient with others of a like nature. Upon his death, he was succeeded by his second son, the eldest having died. Sir Thomas Fairfax of Denton who received that estate from his mother, but who lost Steeton Castle to his youngest son, Gabriel. The unruly son Thomas had offended his father by aiding the Duke of Bourbon at the sacking of Rome, hence his name is not even mentioned in the will. This will, copies of which still exist, is a curious document, in which the son fallen under the father’s displeasure is never mentioned. “


Sheffield, Lord Edmund, 1521

8. Lord Edmund Sheffield, 1st Baron Sheffield

Your 12th great grandfather Birth 22 Nov 1521 in Butterwick, Lincolnshire, England

Death 31 Jul 1549 in Norwich, Norfolk, England
“Edmund Sheffield, 1st Baron Sheffield (22 November 1521 – 19 July 1549) was an English nobleman, the son of Sir Robert Sheffield and his second wife Jane Stanley. Through his mother, he was a second cousin of the reigning English monarch, King Henry VIII. Following his father’s death in 1531, his wardship was granted to George Boleyn, Viscount Rochford, the brother of Henry VIII’s second wife Anne Boleyn. However, both Rochford and Boleyn were executed in 1536, and his wardship was transferred to John de Vere, the fifteenth Earl of Oxford. Edmund married Anne de Vere, Oxford’s daughter, before 31 January 1538, and had five children. In 1547 he was raised to the Peerage of England as Baron Sheffield of Butterwick. Two years later, during Kett’s Rebellion in Norwich, Lord Sheffield was murdered in a street near the Cathedral Close. Children

  1. Eleanor Sheffield (born about 1537) married Denzel Holles
  2. John Sheffield, 2nd Baron Sheffield (c. 1538 – 10 December 1568) married Douglas Howard
  3. Robert Sheffield (born about 1540
  4. Frances Sheffield (born 1542) married Thomas Metham
  5. Elizabeth Sheffield (born about 1546)”


Holles, John, Earl of clare

9. Lord John Holles, 1st Earl of Clare

Your 10th great grandfather
Birth May 1564 in Haughton, Nottinghamshire, England
Death 4 Oct 1636 in Clare, Nottinghamshire, England

“John Holles, 1st Earl of Clare (May 1564 – 4 October 1637) was an English nobleman. He was the son of Denzel Holles of Irby upon Humber and Eleanor Sheffield (daughter of Edmund Sheffield, 1st Baron Sheffield of Butterwick). His great-great-grandfather was William HollyesLord Mayor of London. Holles married Anne Stanhope (daughter of Sir Thomas Stanhope) on 23 May 1591 in Shelford, Nottinghamshire. Through his marriage to Anne, he inherited Thurland Hall in Nottingham which was also known as Clare Place. The family seat was at Haughton Hall in the parish of Bothamsall. Haughton Hall was demolished in the late eighteenth century. He was comptroller of the household of Prince Henry until the prince’s death on 6 November 1612. He was created 1st Baron Haughton on 9 July 1616 and 1st Earl of Clare on 2 November 1624. He was Member of Parliament for Nottinghamshire from 1604 to 1611 and 1614 to 1616. He is buried in St. Mary’s Church, Nottingham. Children

  • John Holles, 2nd Earl of Clare (1595–1666)
  • Robert Holles (b. 1597), married Ursula Cooper
  • Denzil Holles, 1st Baron Holles (1599–1680)
  • Francis o.s.p. (died without offspring)
  • William o.s.p. (died without offspring)
  • Eleanore Holles, married Oliver Fitzwilliam, 1st Earl of Tyrconnel, became Countess of Tyrconnel, buried in St. Mary’s Church, Nottingham 11 April 1681
  • Arabella Holles (died October 1631), married Thomas Wentworth, 1st Earl of Strafford”

randyandjulia originally shared this to Hervey et al. Family Tree, ancestry.com



Lady Astor, Nancy Langhorne10. Lady Astor, Nancy Witcher Langhorne

Your 2nd cousin 2x removed
Birth 7 May 1879 in Danville, Pittsylvania, Virginia, United States
Death 1964 in Cliveden Estate, Buckinghamshire, England
and her husband

Lord Astor, Viscount

“He was a member of the British House of Commons and the House of Lords, replacing his father, William Astor.Waldorf Astor, 2nd Viscount Astor (19 May 1879–30 September 1952) was a businessman and politician and a member of the prominent Astor family.Born in New York City in the United States, he was the son of the extremely wealthy William Waldorf Astor (1848-1919) (later 1st Viscount Astor), and Mary Dahlgren Paul (1858-1894). He grew up in New York City but when he was 12 the family moved to England where he received an education at Eton College and at New College, Oxford. The family’s wealth allowed Waldorf Astor many choices but his interest in politics would dominate his life. In 1906, he married the American divorcée Nancy Witcher Langhorne who was born on exactly the same day as he was. A few years later he entered politics, in 1910 being elected Conservative Member of Parliament for Plymouth and then in 1918 Plymouth Sutton. As a wedding gift, Astor’s father had given him and his bride the family estate at Cliveden. There, Nancy Astor undertook a redecoration of the house, installing electricity for the first time. The young couple’s lavish entertaining at the estate is often referred to as the ‘golden period’ at Cliveden when guests such as Winston Churchill, Arthur Balfour, Rudyard Kipling, Lord Curzon of Kedleston, and others of the British elite gathered for parties, fox-hunting, and other pastimes of the wealthy. This prominent circle became known as the “Cliveden Set” and were very influential over the affairs of state. Waldorf Astor was a friend and supporter of David Lloyd George and during the First World War he served as the Prime Minister’s Parliamentary Secretary. From 1919 until 1921 he served in government as Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health. On the death of his father, Waldorf Astor inherited a fortune that included the influential newspaper The Observer. In addition, he succeeded as 2nd Viscount Astor and automatically became a member of the House of Lords, and his seat in the House of Commons was forfeited. His wife Nancy then became the party’s candidate in the subsequent by-election. On 28 November 1919, she became the second woman elected to the House of Commons, after Constance Markievicz). On 1 December, she became the first woman member to take her seat in the House (Markievicz had declined to do so in accordance with her party’s policy). She was to be re-elected many times, serving until 1945. Lord Astor was active in charitable causes and served as a governor of the Peabody Trust and Guy’s Hospital. Still involved in political matters, he was Chairman of the Royal Institute of International Affairs from 1935 to 1949 and also served as Lord Mayor of Plymouth from 1939 to 1944. He took over a successful thoroughbred racing stable from his father and expanded it further, winning many important races throughout Britain including the prestigious St. Leger Stakes in 1927. Although the Astor family donated the Cliveden Estate in Buckinghamshire to the National Trust, Lord Astor lived there until his death in 1952 and his wife remained until her death in 1964.”–ancestry.com
Nancy was my second cousin and our most famous relative alive in my lifetime. My mother referred to Nancy’s father as “Cousin Chilly”. She helped my mother’s family directly when their mother, her first cousin died and they were all still children in need of direction and support. This is the relationship chart:
Nancy Witcher “Lady Astor” Langhorne (1879 – 1964)

is your 2nd cousin 2x removed
father of Nancy Witcher “Lady Astor” Langhorne
father of Chiswell Dabney Langhorne
father of John Scarsbrook Langhorne
son of Henry Scarsbrook Langhorne
daughter of James Steptoe Langhorne
daughter of Evaline Langhorne
daughter of Katherine Steptoe Houchins
You are the daughter of Margaret Steptoe Kerse
Today  is the 10th day of Christmas my friends and family, enjoy it, revel in it, we only celebrate such special days once a year!  Wishing ou always and only the BEST!



“On the Ninth Day of Christmas My True Love Gave to me…nine ladies dancing…”

Annie Holshouser, our daughter, was our “lady dancing” all her life!  She was born to move, born with rhythm, and can remember any pattern you throw at her!  She danced from age three to …well…she still dances! I hope she always will! Tap with friends is so awesome! Annie Holshouser, @ 1987Annie Holshouser takes a bow after ballet, @ 1986

Max and I were blessed in that both of our daughters were musically talented in several different ways. Instrumentally, voice, dance—it allowed us to see and hear many wonderful performances over the years, from childhood recitals through college!Annie Holshouser on stage @ 1989

But that Annie, she was the dancer!  From ballet, to tap, to modern, jazz, and ballroom!  You should  be so lucky as to see this young lady do the tango, it was so steamy, I thought I’d  have to leave the auditorium! I am her mother after all! I was never like that, so I cannot claim credit for her talent, shucks, but I can certainly enjoy it and revel in the memories.

Of course, all of us parents are proud to see our kids on stage participating where their talents lead them. (or perhaps on the ball field?)  and I’m sure we all have our stories, but I do remember when she was just 12 or perhaps 13, and had enrolled in her first jazz dance class .  I stayed to observe, usually discouraged by Annie, LOL, but realized  immediately why I probably shouldn’t have. There’s my precious, sweet, innocent little girl, right, all impulse and movement, lightening speed and grace, but what do I see?  Here’s this middle-aged dancer/coach having them parade around the studio, with one huge wall mirrored, saying “Strut ladies! Strut, show what God gave you! “   You are kidding me! It was all I could do not to walk out there and jerk my child right off that dance floor! My little girl didn’t “strut”…what was wrong with her! ? LOL But I didn’t , and she survived the class only to be even more graceful! It’s hard for a momma lion to let her cubs go!                    

Annie Holshouser dancing like nobody is watching, @ 1994

You see the picture of Annie, about age 10, “dancing like no one is watching”—in her nightgown no less! That was our life with her, from the time she was three until the present, she’s rarely far from moving to the music! And of course , she had to grow up, moved into ballroom dancing and enjoyed her galas and balls! Keep on dancing my darling!Annie Holshouser, going to the Cadet Ball, 1999

But wait, I haven’t shown you nine ladies dancing, but hmmm…look below, you have a treat!  Merry Christmas everybody, on this ninth day of Christmas, and still the beginning of a brand new year, I encourage you to go ahead and move to the music  yourself! That’s right, turn it up loud, let it all hang out, smile, grin, laugh out loud! Make a joyful noise!

Annie and Frankie showing off their tango, @ 2009


“On the Eighth Day of Christmas my true love gave to me, eight maids a milking…”


Lydia Ruth Underwood Belcher, with son, Harold Bruce Belcher, b. 1935.
Picture provided by granddaughter-Beverly Belcher Woody, Mountain Top Families
December 14, 2013 “It takes a real “milker” to milk a cow with one hand and hold a rambunctious little boy with the other! My Grandma Lydia and my Daddy, Bruce Belcher.”

Eight Maids a Milking….brings many thoughts and metaphors to mind, but in the forefront of every other thought, was this picture of Lydia Underwood Belcher as she went about her daily chore of milking the cow while still tending to her young son, Harold Bruce Belcher. (photo taken about 1937 in Patrick County, Virginia)

 Beverly Belcher Woody, my fifth cousin, whom I met doing  genealogical research and forged a  friendship with through this work together, shared this picture of her grandmother with me, and how priceless is this! Here is a real, true “maid a milking” ! This song we sing at Christmas time, The Twelve Days of Christmas, includes this reference, because for the first time, I realize how many, millions, of young girls and women completed this daily chore as part and parcel of caring for their family! They lived on farms, and in small towns, all over the world! Among other things, the milk nourished their families physically as they nourished them emotionally.  I just never thought about how many women did this task, how many started and ended their days this way—eight times 8000—our grandmothers and great grandmothers, the “maids a milking”– allowing us to grow strong and perpetuate the generations. I now know this Lydia through her granddaughter, and I know her great grandchildren! She lives in their hearts very vibrantly, touching my heart as well! Who knows where our lives will lead, and who we will touch long after we have lived on this earth. Here she is, simply going about her chores and caring for her son, and here I am inspired by her– my third cousin– for her steadfastness and her care. Here’s to you Lydia, your grandchildren do you proud by the way!




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On the Fifth Day of Christmas, My True Love Gave to Me, Five Golden Rings!

Five Golden Rings bring to mind so many images and feelings, with angels’ halos high on that list. Today however, on this 5th day of Christmas, I’m thinking of my loved ones and designing a bracelet of rings for the women/girls in my immediate family, which happen to be five right now! 

The new Pandora charms–the essence collection–has inspired these thoughts in me. (Let me make it clear, unfortunately, I have no financial relationship with Pandora, these are just my thoughts!) The very word essence captures my imagination. We have given Pandora charms to our daughters for several occasions in recent years. We gave Ali one that represented the birthstone of her new baby to add to her collection . For Christmas, we gave Annie a gingerbread man with a beating heart! Many of you know that Annie has entered culinary school this year to become a pastry chef. Just before Christmas she and her baking partner won a blue ribbon for their first ever gingerbread house entered into a charity auction! Besides that, Annie thinks the gingerbread man represents the “perfect man” since he is warm, sweet and full of heart!

     Pandora’s new “essence” collection inspires me to think of what characteristics I would want to inspire my daughters and granddaughters, and even myself to believe in and continue to strengthen over the years. It just so happens that you can get these charms as “rings”, rings that fit on a golden bracelet–another ring in itself.  So, I think I’ll design one bracelet with five golden rings that I would give as gifts to my daughters Ali, and Annie, and to my granddaughters Katy and Evelyn Noel, and one for me, which could become Annie’s daughter’s, or even for a great-grandchild–five golden rings! Immediately, I know I can’t do this…choose only five?!  I’ll try, but there are so many more “essences” –afterall, we are complex women!

   The first golden ring charm I will choose for us is Faith. Faith in God has always been important to me, although I have grown to be a liberal Christian. Even though I grew up Methodist, my Mom had grown up Catholic. And although she had left that church, it influenced her greatly and she passed along much to us. I am a strong believer in prayer, in angels, and in the fact that God created this world far beyond our understanding! I pray  that my children and grandchildren will feel the strength and power of Faith in life everlasting that I feel. It is a wonderful support system in times of joy and stress, and will stand them well if they lean on God. For this essence, Pandora has chosen amethyst, a lavender stone that represents metaphysical qualities like belief and trust. My hope is that we will see this stone and be reminded to offer a prayer for the world, and our friends, family,  and enemies as well. Pray unceasingly. Pandora faith charm








     The second golden ring of inspiration I’m choosing for my family, is Love of course. God gave us Love! God said it was the greatest gift, the reason He gives us eternal life, because He loves us! As much as I’d like to see each person in my family find a soul mate to be their companion in this life, LOVE is so much more! If we loved more than we lusted…for power, for money, for property….we’d never have wars but Peace! When we love our friends and family that love fills us with Joy, Passion for life, and Compassion. So we’ve picked up other essences to think of with Love! When you look at this charm my daughters and grands, I hope you will remember how much I love you, how much I feel loved by you, and how much joy that has brought to my life!  (One note, I don’t think we  have to love everyone– some choose poorly, like an abusive parent…we need to hold them responsible, even cut ties with them. They decided against love themselves, you must protect yourself.) I’m choosing a vibrant red ruby, Annie’s birthstone, to surround this ring, red for the passionate  Love of life, God, family, friends, …Pandora love charm

     The third golden ring on this inspirational bracelet I’m dreaming of,, has  a lovely clear blue aquamarine stone as well, Ali’s and my birthstone. Blue for fresh air, water, HEALTH! I would like to inspire you to choose healthy pursuits and habits. I have been unhealthy more than healthy in my lifetime. In fact, when I look back over my life, I was really only healthy during my young adult years, my 20’s and early 30’s! As a child, I was born with an undeveloped digestive system, spent a long time in the hospital myself as an infant, and lived five whole years eating only soy milk and bananas…all I could tolerate! The doctor who worked to help my mother discover this, Dr. Carolyn McCue of Richmond, Virginia, saved my life, and therefore saved yours! “Thank you God”, and “why Lord?”, both  come to mind.  An automobile accident dampened my adolescent health. But swimming, which we had always done, brought it back bit by bit. Unfortunately, this brief interlude brought aging, poor choices, burning the candle at three ends, and lead to an abrupt halt to full and independent  living at age 50, exactly as had happened with my Mom, with my first heart attack and the discovery of disabling cardiovascular disease. Thanks to a loving husband and family, we adjusted and I got to go on, Thanks to God also and first of course, but why me Lord? I don’t understand, and I don’t believe I was blessed when someone else wasn’t…perhaps fate? You know how I struggle with these issues dear God! 

Pandora Health charm 


   The fourth stone I’ll choose for this Christmas golden ring, will be golden yellow… yellow like the sun, full of Energy but representing COURAGE, because I know you will need it to live this life to your best! God made you strong, gave you many gifts, you have the courage to use these gifts…the responsibility! My grandson would say that the yellow light would stream out as if from  a light saber….protecting, defending, using the Force of God  to protect yourself and your loved ones if necessary. I wish us all the courage to be the best we can be, to live life with verve and elan. Draw up this golden light when you need it to heal you, to energize  you, to provide a light for your path. God provides the light, prayer is your key.Pandora courage charm

    The fifth golden ring on this golden bracelet I’m designing, in my imagination,  for myself, my daughters and granddaughers…five of us right now, might surprise those who’ve known me for years. On this ring, I’ll choose a beautiful clear emerald, my sister’s birthstone, and will have it represent PROSPERITY. Most who know me know I have never believed in having money. I came of age in the 1960’s after all, so I identified with the flower children and embraced the sharing way of life and ideals. I was a teacher, but a community activist, and an elder in my church!  As I have aged, I realized that it is true what they say…having money is not evil, but how you use your money, what you allow it to do to you, that’s where you have to be so careful! Knowing us as a family, I now trust that we will not run amuck! I believe as you become prosperous, you WILL use your money for good. More of us who will be good to others need to have more money,   helpful, community oriented, pull others up kinds of people help our world…please Lord, fund us and guide us to be able to be helpful financially to our families and to others! Pandora prosperity charm

Five golden rings, surrounding a golden charm bracelet, for five women! May it remind, inspire, and encourage each of us to pray, love, practice health, act with courage, and to be prosperous and use our money to help others. The ideals are enough, but the golden rings of Christmas’s fifth day are lovely. Merry Christmas my family and friends.



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The Third Day of Christmas is About Three French Hens…translate…Three Young Grandchildren!

Liam and Katy dancing at GiGi's birthday party! March, 2013          Evie Orcutt, at birth, Dec.16,2013I have to admit, I know nothing about French hens, nor do I want to–even though I have a sister-in-law with fancy hens she loves and a good friend! (They’ll be so disappointed in me!) When I sing this happy song…not today…still have laryngitis with my pneumonia…I picture 3 feathery creatures running around noisily with abandon! That picture matches the circus our home becomes when the grandchildren start chasing each other around the house! Our third grandchild Evie, just born Dec. 16, will be joining that chase by next Christmas! The Squeals, the giggles…could there be a more delightful sound! ?  After 42 years of marriage, my husband still just looks at the sublime joy on my face as the noise level rises, and wonders “WHY? Why doesn’t she call a halt? Why doesn’t she calm them down?” Then he sees the joy I have observing them…what a rush!  The Twelve Days of Christmas…thank heavens…we have twelve whole days to celebrate the lives God gave us when he gave us his Son, and our very lives! 

  Evie and momma   Since our new Granddaughter has been born, my husband and I have been having private moments of joy and laughter at our oldest daughter Ali and her husband Greg”s expense I hate, and love, to admit! LOL  In between the extreme worry over our daughter’s difficult pregnancy, the preeclampsia that could have stolen her and the baby from us, in moments of levity, we start thinking of their lives from here on out– now that they have three–THREE children!  LOL.  Ali will be 40 in March, 2014, and just recovering from her third premature birth and c-section!  Greg is 42 already!  I just hope they stock up on Geritol!  Driving home from their house just before Christmas–exhausted but thrilled from our time with 2-year-old Katy and 6-year-old Liam, we start doing the math and comparing child development stages with “parental aging” — and wonder…

–early 40’s–children 6, 2, and newborn, Dec. 2013– home total chaos– no sleep– bottles, diapers, potty training, and PTA!  Poor Liam will be nine or ten before his parents come up for air!  

–mid 40’s–children 5, 7, and 11!  Greg the Park Ranger, Ali the former Evie and papa lovesmusician will be in full-on parenting mode…actually for the next 15 years at least– camping, church, scouts, sports, music lessons, and school of course!  Hope they’ve got their running shoes and pedometers ready!

 –almost 50– Liam will be 13 — a teenager– are you ready?  Your sweet, idolizing young boy you have now, might change.  He’ll be much smarter and cooler than you– and you will embarrass him with your mere existence!  Doors will SLAM on conversations…start your deep breathing exercises Now!

 –ten years from now–  Ali 50, Greg–52— Liam 16, and a new driver!  Katy being 12, and Evie 10, they’ll all be into a million activities!  Having another driver in the house can be helpful… and scary!  We were so happy when 16-year-old Ali began driving. She was responsible, and an excellent driver, so, we askd her to drive her eight year old sister to Vacation Bible School…and whoops (!), she takes out a neighbor’s mailbox while reaching for the Bible sliding off the dash!  Lord???  

—55 year old Ali, and 57-year-old Greg–oh my gracious– the girls, Katy 17 and Evie 15 will be dating!  Greg, a law enforcement officer as well, carries a gun!  Those could be scary years! 

—64– When Ali is our age, her children will be 24, 26, and 30!  Do we dare hope she and Greg will have three college graduates, gainfully employed…grandchildren of their own perhaps…and won’t want to sleep late, now that they can again?!  Yes! This is what we hope for them. “Please Lord, watch over their family and take them through all the years with health and Grace!  Amen” 


On the first day of Christmas, 2013…

I came down with PNEUMONIA!   NOW God? I just rejoined your church– doesn’t that count for anything? We have a new baby Granddaughter–born 6  weeks prematurely on Dec. 16,–her Mom and Papa need my help with the 2 and 6 year olds!  It’s Christmas…You saved her life, and you saved her mother’s life, and I am thankful, and humbled! To be quite honest, I thought maybe I was the one leaving this earthly life just Christmas night!  But it seems you have decided to keep us all around for a bit, thank you! Don’t think I don’ t recognize how blessed we are…how you sacrificed your Son so we could have life abundantly and eternally! Thank You! But what is this then? I can live but not help? No….I’m sure that’s not it…The three of us get to live, but not my neighbor, who died this week? WHAT!?!

You know Lord, when I first got sick with my heart disease back in 1999, yes, almost 15 years ago now, You and I had quite a few talks about it….why….how….what now. Patience you said, learn patience…..and I tried, I really did. I prayed, talked with my minister, others prayed for me, I studied the Bible, lead a support group, wrote, researched, and life moved on. Differently than I had thought it might…but with the blessings of daughters entering adulthood and now the birth of three grandchildren. Now, I admit, I have shook my fists at heaven more than once and said “Patience, smachience! Enough already! I failed! You knew I was flawed when you made me, and yet yu gave me free choice? ”   The doctors said I couldn’t/wouldn’t live this long–apparently You had other plans.  The doctors said Ali and Greg couldn’t have a child without fertility help, but here’s Evie! I’m not bashing doctors–Lord you know what a blessing they’ve been to our family!  But okay there’s only one Lord!  And a blessing this life is! With all its trials and tribulations Lord!  Thank You for pneumonia, it made me stop and listen again, but…now… give me a hand will ya please Lord, so I can get back into things, please Lord? Patience?? really??? I’m not Job you know. Love you and thankful for life!


The Second Day of Christmas is all about Turtle Doves…

        I could hardly breathe with pneumonia, and my throat was so sore it felt like pins were sticking in it, so even though my sweet hubby of 42 years was right beside me , being so kind and caring, I was more in the mood for turtle soup than doving! I was fun to be with also–coughing, sneezing, freezing, burning up…and whining all the way to the doctor’s office where yes, that precious man, my husband Max. took me! It was Christmas! 

        This was December 26, 2013, the second day of Christmas! I wanted to be cheerful! But my oldest daughter had just had her third child, a premature little girl named Evie! It was so devastating to have a grandchild in the intensive care unit of a big old hospital and not be able to be there with her to help rock and comfort! Ali was home now, the baby Evie was 2 weeks old today, but not very available to us! The other thing we could do was to keep 2 year old Katy, and Liam, aged 6. Had they really been here just a few hours ago? “Oh Dear Lord, please, please don’t let either of them or Ali or Greg get this pneumonia! You brought that little baby girl into this world, now let her family be there for her! Hope I’ll be sacrificial enough for you…go ahead, keep me away just not the parents or kids!”  (This is the way I pray most of the time, in running commentary throughout the day!  Sometimes I do pray more fervently, more focused and in a more reverent way I guess. ) I’d thought I just had a cold, one the kids had given me…so we were all sharing germs like all good families! 🙂  I was shocked when 3 hours after they left our house Christmas night, I began wheezing audibly and being very sick! 



   When my children were young, we celebrated the 12 days of Christmas in a very special way. We would choose a friend or neighbor, one who wasn’t well, or alone perhaps and each day during the 12 days of Christmas, starting December 26 and ending at Epiphany, Jan. 6, we would give a little gift  in secret to this friend. The kids enjoyed sneaking gingerbread men cookies drumming onto the porch, ringing the bell, and running away so our friend wouldn’t know it was us! It was especially fun to see our friends smiling from the joy, almost as much as we were! Sometimes we gave  things like  golden earrings for “five golden rings”! Of course, they were not expensive. Day one traditionally brought a basket of pears with a lovely bird perched on top, made by one of the children of course. Maybe I’ll get to do this with my grandchildren next year. Please know, that although I am not happy to be sick and isolated, I am already, here on day 5 of my illness, feeling better enough to be sitting up writing! Not true just yesterday! The kids and I will be laughing together again soon! I also know, that no matter what is going on with you…you can almost always look around and find someone having more difficulties at this celebratory time of year! In my own small group, I know three who’ve lost parents on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day! So sad! My own Mom died on Epiphany, 1980, I still miss her!  I hope the ones who have lost loved ones will move to a place in their grief by next Christmas perhaps where they can  truly remember the joy of the relationship  and  not let the death dampen the holiday, but instead, let it sweeten it with very special memories and perhaps even new traditions of honoring the loved one. 

        I love the second day of Christmas actually, because I am very blessed to have my turtle-dove beside me, and beside me for 42 years! Love you honey, and thank you God!

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Life happens, even when you are hiding!

It’s hard to believe that it has been two months since I posted an entry on my blog! Many of you know that I let the events in Connecticut, the shooting in the elementary school, knock me for a loop! I was in the middle of a series of articles about angels, and the miracles they bring us, when this terrible tragedy occurred! I just couldn’t continue. I was sad, and I was angry. I know in my heart that angels exist, and I know they have saved me and my daughter, and several people I know. But…BUT…what about these adorable, innocent children, and of course, the incredible educators who sacrificed their lives trying to protect the children. Why  didn’t the angels protect them?! 

I know all the arguments–they’re in a better place–God called them home–bad things happen to good people. It doesn’t matter, I was sickened! I was angry at the angels and therefore felt I could not continue the angel stories, so I let myself be disheartened, and just stopped blogging for awhile. Christmas came and went, it was a nice respite from the grief since my family is still intact, is that terribly selfish? 

After Christmas, my grandchildren both got very ill with high fevers and a flu like illness. They got better, but both of their parents got sick! We were trying to travel out of state to see family, but all three times, we had to cancel! My other daughter Annie, who lives here at home also got sick, a full seven days of a flu like illness! Amazingly I didn’t get it, but my husband, who never gets these things did! He was sick for about ten days! Bronchitis the doctor finally said. Our daughter Ali got better, just in time to throw a family party for our one year old granddaughter, and during the party you could see her go downhill! 

By the end, Ali was feverish and sick, and a trip to the doctor the next day verified that she had relapsed into pneumonia! Then the baby got bronchiolus, then the five year old! Dad was not to be left out with a terrible cold and other symptoms! The whole family rallied to try to bring soup and help in any way we could. My sister had pneumonia also, and two of our red hatters! What a mess! 

Suddenly it was Valentine’s Day, and I had not been back to my blog! I missed it! I realized that I like writing about life, and that life was tough sometimes, even tragic…not that I didn’t already know this…but that it was also happy and fun! I needed to get back to nurturing the fun, highlighting the joy, while admitting the sad events as well. So, here we are my friends. I hope you will join me in this journey and share your fun and sad times through your comments. As you know, I love a group, a community!

What was your Christmas like? Did you celebrate Valentine’s Day? Mardi Gras? the Chinese New Year? I really want to know!  Hope to hear from you soon. Helen